The Church calls us to fast and abstinence, personal and communal worship, the works of mercy. Many Catholics choose particular penances and practices of self_denial, attend daily Mass, reach out to neighbors in need.
This book grew out of my personal efforts in recent years to "keep Lent" by reflecting more seriously on the Word of God and by applying that Word to my daily life. The revised Lectionary of the Church offers a rich menu of biblical readings for each day of Lent. These readings highlight the major themes of the season: faith, conversion, Baptism, prayer, penance, charity.
The first reading of each day is from the Old Testament; the dominant themes are God's covenant with his people, his promise and gift of the Suffering Servant, his call to repentance and conversion. The Gospel readings for the first three weeks of Lent are chosen from Matthew, Mark, and Luke; no particular order is evident, but some of the major events in the life and ministry of Jesus (for example, his temptation in the desert, his transfiguration, his encounter with the Samaritan woman) are emphasized.
Beginning with the fourth week of Lent, the challenging Gospel of John is read in order.
The purpose of DAY BY DAY THROUGH LENT is to help the reader reflect on these biblical readings, to pray over them, and to apply them to his or her own life. The format of the book is simple: After indicating the Scripture readings for the day, I focus on one passage from one of the readings. I then offer a reflection on that passage. In these reflections I try to throw light on the basic biblical meaning of the passage and also show how this meaning touches our lives.
(Since the readings were selected precisely for the liturgies of Lent, there is a certain amount of repetition of major themes: Baptism, for example, is emphasized frequently; so, too, are repentance and charity. But since these reflections are not meant to be read straight through, as one would read a novel, I trust that the repetition will not be too distracting.)
After the reflection is a prayer, drawn ordinarily from the Psalms or from the Liturgy and suited to the theme of the reflection. My hope is that the brief prayer cited here would be a prayer_starter, a point of departure for the more personal and intimate prayer of the reader.
Finally, there is a practice: a suggested way of applying the Word of God in a concrete fashion. It goes without saying that these suggested practices are simply examples of what an individual might do. The practice for the day will be of value in the measure that it touches one's real life.
I offer this book, then, not as a neat package but as a practical help: a help to reflect on the Word of God, a help to respond to that Word in love and prayer, a hemp to apply that Word to one's life and circumstances. I think of these reflections, prayers, and practices as potential springboards from which the reader can leap into a more intimate dialogue with the Lord and a more personal response to his Word.
I ask the Lord of Lent to bless all those people who, in various ways, have helped me to understand and appreciate the Word of God. At the same time I ask the Lord to bless all those who use this book. From those who gain something from it (and even from those who don't) I ask a small prayer for the author. - Daniel L. Lowery, C.SS.R.