Monday of Lent II – Prayer of the Week

O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Some years ago, over spring break, we visited my daughter who was studying in Madrid, Spain. I look at those pictures now and am struck by how long ago it feels. We speak of the “before time” to refer to those days before COVID disrupted everything. So much has changed. While we were there, we visited the Prado museum, one of the great art museums of the world. I wanted to go because they have a significant collection of works by Hieronymus Bosch. If you know anything about Bosch’s work, you probably are already drawing some conclusions about me which may in fact be quite accurate. If you want to know more about Bosch, here is a link to a brief and well-done introduction to his work in the Prado.

Bosch is notable for his depiction of sin and its consequences. We pray here that God would defend us from all the adversities of the body and the evil thoughts that assault and hurt the soul. Bosch seems to have had a particularly vivid insight into these assaults on body and soul. I recommend him to you. But there are others. The recent pandemic has also reminded us of things which can assault our bodies. But have we forgotten the even greater threat posed by the internal harm done to our soul?

Lent is a time to reflect and ponder God, our sins, His redemption, and Jesus’ passion. This prayer reminds us of what is at stake in this for all of us. Bosch’s imaging of hellish torment reflects a man who thought deeply about this. Some of his images are terrifying and bizarre. But so is sin and what it does to us. After you ponder this, pray this prayer anew. God in Christ is answering it in the affirmative.

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