For this month's discussion guide in an easy print format,
For this month's Reflection in easy print format,
Start your meeting with the sign of the Cross and prayer
Someone read: A reading from Proverbs 30:7-9
Two things I ask of you O Lord; do not refuse me before I die. Make me absolutely honest and don't let me be too poor or too rich, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you, saying "Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal and so disgrace your name.
Journey of Bread
By Bev McDonald
Lent is a time of letting go, of letting things lie fallow and be turned and renewed for future life and hope. I read recently about someone sharing the Lord's Prayer with a young child who promptly said, "But why are we asking for more bread mummy, we got plenty today from the shops."
Today when I want bread I also simply buy it from the shops. In less technological times (and still in some countries) to get bread took a great deal of planning months in advance. First we had to prepare and plough a field, then plant the grain, tend and weed it, then harvest, thresh and grind it into flour. A whole community was involved in the process. Only once it was flour could it be added to other key ingredients including yeast and then kneaded, rested to rise, knocked down, allowed to rise again, worked with and then finally baked and cooled to be ready for a meal. Wow that is a quite a big deal. So when we say 'give us today our daily bread' what do you think we are asking God for?
Ploughing and Lying Fallow: Firstly the field must be ploughed and prepared for planting. I asked myself: What needs to be ploughed or fertilized in my life so it is ready to receive something new? What weeds and old growth will be uprooted and overturned in the process? How willing am I to give God the freedom to plough up my comfortable patch and turn it back into grubby overturned over soil? How long will this process take, and do some things need to rest and lie fallow for a while so they do not destroy the new grain? This made me think of the grief process and letting go of my comfortable old patterns to be willing to stretch into new life. That takes time and is never easy.
Seed time: Then the seed is planted. What dreams, desires and ideas has God placed in my life that are yet to germinate? Is there something I would love to, do but feel too afraid to give it a go for fear of failure? The little seed must die to itself before it can become a part of a field of grain. How can I let God mould my dreams and desires so they align with all that is true and good and beautiful and can become life giving for myself and others? What stops me from this process?
Harvesting, threshing, stacking and storing: These are all communal and involve a willingness to join with others and become part of something much bigger than myself. Are there some areas of my life where this analogy is true? Can I readily join in with the church, Marist, parish, group, family or community and let myself humbly contribute a small part to the whole without demanding it all go my way? How much do I struggle with being a small part of a whole when I disagree with someone or something, or I don't understand why a decision has been made?
Grinding the grain: "Ugh" I find myself thinking. "Surely the process should be getting easier"- but it seems not. Now the grain itself is ground into oblivion. When have you felt like you have had to lose a great deal and that really, God could have been a bit more gentle and kind? Can you imagine that this could be a grinding moment for you and that there is a future you cannot imagine?
Adding ingredients and yeast: Now again the flour must blend with humility into something bigger than itself. The tiny specks of flour are worthless on their own, but together and bound with other good things they can make a treasure. What connections can you see with your life and Marist spirituality? What wisdom might Mary and Joseph give us about living with these processes?
Kneading the Bread: Now the dough is sticky, soft and malleable in the hands of the baker. How willing am I to be kneaded, shaped and formed by God?
Rising and knocking down: This part seems especially tough as an analogy. Having managed all the processes that have gone before and being formed into a beautiful well-formed dough we are left to rise only to be knocked down and asked to rise again, perhaps more than once. What are some connections you might make with the story of Mary and Joseph? When might they have felt built up and then knocked down and how did they respond? Can you see any connections to your own life or to that of communities you are part of?
Baking and Sharing: Finally the bread is baked to be shared. Baked bread smells fill the house or bakery and give us such a wonderful sense of anticipation and hope. The baked bread is a thing of beauty in its own right. Then we discover that yet again it must be broken to receive for ourselves and for others. This precious staple food has not been easily produced. In the long journey from ploughing to table much has happened and there has been enormous change. The thread going through the entire journey is that each change leads us deeper into community, deeper into dying to our own self-interest and deeper into radical trust of the baker. What are some ways the changes, growth, knocks and struggles in your own life can be recognized now as leading you deeper into community, growth in selflessness and deeper into trust of God?
When we next pray the words, "give us this day our daily bread", I hope we ponder the amazing gift of Christ who comes to us as bread in Eucharist, prepared and provided for us from the mind of God from all eternity. How he died to himself and was broken on the cross, knocked down to rise again so that we might have the gift of being freely invited to share the bread of life not only amongst ourselves but for others and yes, for all eternity. I hope we can ponder the connections to the life of Mary and Joseph and finally how we are all invited to live the journey of becoming broken bread.
Read the script
Simply use these questions as a starter to guide your sharing.
Silently re-read the Scripture and share briefly what strikes you.
What analogy or questions in this reflection stood out for you?
Can you think of a time when Mary and Joseph might have felt built up and then knocked down? How did they respond? What are some connections to your life or community?
"The thread going through the journey from seed to bread is that each change leads us deeper into community, deeper into dying to our own self-interest and deeper into radical trust of the baker."
What connections can you see with your daily life as Marist?
March dates And Pope’s Prayer intentions
Wed 1st March: Ash Wednesday
Mon 20th: St Joseph Husband BVM
Sat 25th: Annunciation of the Lord
Support for Persecuted Christians
That persecuted Christians may be supported by the prayers and material help of the whole Church.
Prayer for General Chapter
God Our Father,
we thank you that have called us to follow your Son Jesus Christ,
and to serve your people according to Mary's way.
As the Society of Mary prepares for the General Chapter
and takes a new turn on its pilgrim way,
pour out upon them the light of your Spirit.
May he teach your ways and show your paths
so that the Society of Mary may walk in your truth
and witness to your merciful love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
confident in the support of Mary,
our first and perpetual superior. Amen.
Fr Jean Claude Colin, please pray for the Society of Mary
and pray for us.