This Lent, we invite you to enter into time with God through engagement with the arts. For each week of Lent, we have found visual art, music, and poetry inspired by scripture. You may use these resources however you like, but we also offer guidance for each category in our videos below. You can also find excellent guides to these practices here: for “visio divina”; for “lectio divina”; and for “musica divina.”
How to Pray with Visual Art
How to Pray with Music
How to Pray with Poetry
SCROLL DOWN FOR MATERIAL ORGANIZED WEEK BY WEEK
Georges de La Tour, Magdalene with Two Flames, 1625-1650 (exact date unknown), oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art NY
daily prayers and art (click image to enlarge):
Debbie Williams, flute
Marked by Ashes
Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933)
Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.
This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.
We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.
On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.
We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.
From Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp. 27-28.
Nocturne (Alexander Tcherepnin, 1899-1977)
Linda & Jonathan Glover, French Horns
by Ruth Burgess
The desert waits,
ready for those who come
who come obedient to the Spirit’s leading;
or who are driven,
because they will not come any other way.
The desert always waits
ready to let us know who we are –
the place of self-discovery.
And whilst we fear, and rightly,
the loneliness and emptiness and harshness
we forget the angels,
whom we cannot see for our blindness,
but who come when God decides
that we need their help;
when we are ready
for what they can give us.
~ from Bread of Tomorrow
Qais Al Sindy: Living as a Pilgrim, 2019, oil and collage on canvas, 45 x 60cm. Learn more about the art and artist here.
Epistle Sonata No 1. in Eb Major (W. A. Mozart, 1756-1791)
Used by permission from St. James Music Press, License #2125
by Christine Valters Paintner
Even as the subway car hurtles
into the tunnel and calendars heave
under growing weight of entries,
even under the familiar lament
for more hours to do
a bell rings somewhere
and a man lays down
his hammer, as if to say
the world can build without me,
a woman sets down
her pen as if to say,
the world will carry on
without my words.
The project left undone,
dust on the shelves,
dishes crusted with morning
egg, the vase of drooping
flowers, and so much work
still to complete,
I journey across the long field
where trees cling to the edges
free to not do anything but
stand their ground,
and bluebells sway
and in this taste of paradise
where rest becomes luminous
and play a prayer of gratitude,
even the stones sing
of a different time,
where burden is lifted
and eternity endures.
Christine Valters Paintner, Ph.D, is a Benedictine oblate and an American poet and writer living in Galway, Ireland, where she leads pilgrimages and retreats.
The Sun Never Says
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the
Keith Haring, Altarpiece, 1990
The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I picked daisies with tiny fingers,
strung them in a crown through my hair,
but their stems broke with the fury of play,
hung ragged from my locks,
petals tangling in the threads
as they fell I picked up their broken necks,
buried them where they were picked
and I learnt sometimes beautiful things break
by Malcolm Guite
Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The Saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus, come
Break my resistance and make me your home.