Lent Calls Us to Two Paths Out of the Desert
February 14, 2024
Reflection: Lent is a familiar journey into the desert for countless Christians. The desert reflects a feeling of God’s absence from our world, a deathly dryness. In the U.S., we feel this in our politics as we look at the dysfunction of Congress that plays games with the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
But awareness of this current desert is good. As Pope Francis reminds us in his Lent message for this year:
“If our celebration of Lent is to be concrete, the first step is to desire to open our eyes to reality.”
Lent is also a time of seeking a way out of the desert, and Pope Francis is clear in that what awaits us beyond the desert is freedom. But how do we get there?
This Lent, more than one prophet cries out in our desert. John the Baptist’s familiar call to “prepare the way” is joined by a 20th-century prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who at the end of his life asked: “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?” As we survey our desert surroundings, “chaos” and “community” could be the signposts on two paths leading us past our current moment. But only one of them is the way of the living God — the way where everyone, without exception, can live in with dignity.
The path of chaos is promised by candidates who threaten to use the power of the government to punish their opponents and politicize every facet of life in this country. It appears in racial scapegoating meant to drive wedges between communities. It’s a vision in which the future belongs only to the rich and powerful, and everyone else is left to contend with the chaos of a world without the freedoms ensured by a flourishing democracy. May we reject this vision and take the path out of the desert that leads us to Beloved Community.
Prayer by Joan F. Neal, NETWORK Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer
Merciful and loving God, this Lent we seek your guidance and protection
Help us, as we journey together this year toward the November election
Help us to choose: Community over chaos
Solidarity over division
Our neighbor over fear
Care over scarcity
The future over despair
Democracy over autocracy
We have glimpsed the Beloved Community. Give us strength and hope on the journey toward it.
Please scroll below for a daily prayer from Sr. Quincy Howard, OP
This week, sign up for NETWORK’s upcoming webinar: “Choosing Community Over Chaos: Our Work in 2024”
Join Mary Novak, NETWORK’s Executive Director, along with members of our Government Relations and Grassroots Mobilization teams, for our first webinar of 2024. Together, we will review the chaotic and abysmal first session of the 118th Congress–as reflected in our 2023 Voting Record–and then turn our attention to our primary focus in 2024: the election.
During our time together, we will provide a comprehensive overview of NETWORK’s 2024 Equally Sacred Checklist, share our top messages for this election, and give you a “sneak-peak” at trainings we will offer in the spring.
2024 Lenten Daily Prayer
This Lent, commit to saying this daily prayer for our democracy by Sr. Quincy Howard, OP:
God of many names, you humble us by your power to change the course of history. You remind us of the fragility of things we take for granted.
We feel unmoored and adrift; help us to meet this moment as steadfast, courageous citizens. Plant gratitude, inspiration, and motivation in our hearts to preserve all the best aspects of democracy. For it is the best way we know to create a better, more just society.
Help our nation move through the challenges and tribulations of a broken politics and threatened democratic systems. As we prepare for the upcoming election, give our people a spirit of hopeful persistence to do our part, and a renewed faith in these hallowed endeavors. Please steer our leaders and our people toward a collective, higher purpose of a shared common good and a renewed appreciation of our interdependence.
Divine challenger, you are with us in adversity. Carry us through these dark times and help us persevere in the struggle to include the voices of all voters. Guide us to take action, communally and individually, on behalf of a true, fair, and just democracy.