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Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully increase in us your gifts of holy discipline, in almsgiving, prayer, and fasting; that our lives may be directed to the fulfilling of your most gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Look:  at this image of a couple dancing the tango in the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina. What is your initial overall impression?  Now look more deeply at a portion of the image that captures your attention.  Is it one of the dancers?  Or both, and how they physically relate one to another? Consider what they must do to prepare for the dance.

Reflect:  The collect today encourages us to ask the Divine One for the gifts of holy discipline.  Think about that word. Discipline.  And the meaning it holds for you.  For many, discipline is a negative word, and has an element of punishment for wrongdoing.  Yet consider an alternate meaning…that discipline means practice, regular practice of something to become better at doing it.  The tango dancers must practice, or someone will step on toes, or collide with the other, literally.  In Lent we are called to the discipline or practice of holy things.  Traditionally the church raises three practices, or gifts, to our attention: almsgiving, prayer and fasting.  Think about the most recent time you practiced any one of these. What was that like?

Act:  Today is a good day to engage in a holy discipline, and begin serious practice.  Feel free to select one or more, for your benefit, or better yet, for the benefit of another person. Which will you do: give alms, pray, fast? 

Thanks for taking part in New and Contrite Hearts. Your comments are very welcome—let others know what you saw and experienced. Until next time, may you have a most blessed Lent.

Music: “Ambient Sonata”  /Album:  Ambient Sonata  /Artist: Dee Yan-Key

Image: Tango  /Place: La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina  /Photographer: Jon Shematek