Archives for posts with tag: Lent

Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.

Is. 1:18

It is not easy to imagine my sins crimson red. I cannot be that bad, O Godde. I have a friend who refuses to look at sin in her life. Too much of it has been pushed down her throat over her many years by priests from the pulpit.

I find that in my life sin likes to go unnoticed. It makes itself small, harmless, innocuous. If I look at the span of my life, however, all the small, standard, and serious sins I have accumulated over time, I might as well face the crimson of my sins.

So here I am, Jesus, standing in the midst of my sins, sins that seep in every corner of my life, looking away so as not to face the pain they caused to many, but to You most of all. “Let us set things right,” You tell me. “If you are willing, and obey, they may become white as wool.”

You, Jesus, are on the cross, breathless, with no strength left. Your crimson blood shows the lashes of the whip; pearls of blood bead from your crown of thorns. You, the innocent one.

What have I done for You, Jesus?

What am I doing for You?

What will I do for You?

As I ponder the question, I walk with the Risen Christ on the beach. We talk of sin and love. I ask Him to change my heart, to help me obey, to become more willing. To follow you, O Risen One. Gently, He places his scarred hand on my heart and I feel His warmth, His life, a new life coming into me.

May the crimson of Your love beat in my own veins, Beloved.

Illustration: Autumn Lane, Kassel, Germany photo via fobsta, found on Pinterest.

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And if the virtuous woman turns from the path of virtue to do evil,
the same kind of abominable things that the wicked woman does,
can she do this and still live?
None of her virtuous deeds shall be remembered,
because she has broken faith and committed sin;
because of this, she shall die.

Ez. 18:21-28

Today’s first reading starts with the promise that the evil woman who turns away from all the sins she committed… will live. I have always liked this part. I could relate to it. After all, had I not changed my ways?

This morning, however, when I looked at the passage, I recognized myself in the virtuous woman who turns from the path of virtue. Oh, turning from the path of virtue is an exaggeration. I am neither on the path of virtue nor off it. Life, this month, has become a river that goes too fast for me. I can hardly keep my head above water. I am fascinated by what I see going by. Every so often I catch a glimpse of Godde; I am reassured that She is still there, close by. But not close enough that I can hang on to Her.

I am not bad; but I am not good either. My heart is in one place; my head is somewhere else. My emotions err in-between.

One reassuring thought this morning: the path is there to go back on. The choice is always available, even though recently I did not even seem to have time to think of choice. I have been like a kid in wonderland, taking in as much as I could, wondering what Godde wants from me.

Find joy, Godde is there, my inner voice whispered. The thought stopped me. Godde hides in the deepest of my desires. I have embarked on a treasure hunt. Finding Godde in my crazy, bountiful life.

Everyone talks of desert these days. My life is a desert when I cannot feel Godde. So I can be standing in the middle of a crowded market, of a busy street: it feels like a desert if I cannot feel Godde’s heart beating in mine.

Oh, the faint call of the Beloved echoing in the depths of my being…

Illustration: here, riverawaken.tumblr.com

 

 

My work is loving the world.

Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—

   equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.

Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

 

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me

    keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

 

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

    astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

 

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

    and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

    that we live forever.

Thirst, Poems by Mary Oliver

 

Mentioned in Father Kevin O’Brien SJ.  

The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life.

Kindle Edition.

In these days of preparation for our coming Ignatian retreat, I am spending a lot of time with Ignatian authors. One of them is Fr. Kevin O’Brien, whose book I own, and whose retreat on ignatianspirituality.com I follow.

Add Lent, when I am very much staying away from Facebook, and my involvement in the retreat, and you have me pretty much cut off from mainstream news of all kinds.

When I attend a retreat, I embark on a spiritual journey of a few days, opening myself to the Spirit, and all that She has to tell me or show me. Working on a retreat is more like giving birth than walking a spiritual maze. The heart and the mind together, while being very much open to the guidance of the Spirit, struggle to bring about clarity to points that need to be developed, like so many signposts on the journey the retreatants hopefully will take.

While guided by a Sister of the Sacred Heart, a great soul, and with the help of all that we have learned all these years, all together, we make a group of disciples going into a terra very much incognita. Every so often, when we meet and share our progress, the presence of the Spirit among us, buried deep within the talks we have prepared, delights us.

I would like to ask you then, you who happen to read this, to say a small prayer for us this coming weekend. ‘Us’ includes those who will listen and those who will speak, those who will eat and those who will prepare the food to be eaten, all of us remaining in silence for two days.

The theme of our retreat is: Finding God in my Daily Life.

Thank you.

 

Art: Sheila Landry Designs. Found here.

 

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;

listen to him.”

When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate

and were very much afraid.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying,

“Rise, and do not be afraid.”

Mt 17:1-9

Listen to him…

The Transfiguration is announcing the Resurrection. Between now and then, there will be the descent into the valley of death and the very narrow gate of the Cross.

I like this drawing of two of the disciples (Peter and John?), awed and transfixed by what they are witnessing. Holy Companions of the One who is calling each one of us.

Lent this year seems to be all about listening to him. If I want to follow in his footsteps, I need to listen to what he says, verbally and non-verbally. I also want to follow the inner dialogue between the path he shows me and the feelings it triggers in me. The fear of the cost of discipleship, the letting go of my own will, the surrender of my ego, all this for the love of Him, first transfigured on the mountain, then with us always, robed in the luminous aura of his resurrection.

Listen to him…

Only after his death, resurrection, and ascension, did the disciples seem to understand the words Jesus had said. Why should I understand him any better than they did? Am I grasping what he is telling me? Or do I take in just the bits that fit me?

Listen to him…

I hear an urgency, nearly a plea. So much depends on our listening to him! Are we any closer to his Kingdom than were the first disciples? Have we learned anything in the past two thousand years? Have I?

My heart overflows with love for Him, but this is not enough. Climbing the mountain with him is a hard pull. Finishing at the Golgotha, harder still. The cross stands there, for Him, for me maybe. To say yes to all.

This morning in Moved to Greater Love, I came upon a moving prayer with which I would like to end this post:

“Perfect Resignation” by St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ (1737-1811)

My God, I do not know what must come to me today. 


But I am certain that nothing can happen to me


that you have not foreseen, decreed, 


and ordained from eternity. 


That is sufficient for me. 


I adore your impenetrable and eternal designs, 


to which I submit with all my heart. 


I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice 


to that of Jesus Christ, my divine Savior. 


I ask in his name and through his infinite merits, 


patience in my trials, and perfect and entire submission


to all that comes to me by your good pleasure. 


Amen.

 

Art: Raphael’s studies for his Transfiguration, 1500-1525. Found here.

 

Ash Wednesday. The opening day of our Lenten Journey. Many of us are ready to start a pilgrimage toward Easter morning and Pentecost. Like all pilgrims, we are prepared, not so much with hiking boots and a light backpack, but with a book or two, an online retreat, favorite blogs.

This Lent, I will let silence tame me. I will let it teach me how to let go of my anxieties, prejudices, unfreedoms. I will hear its plea to ignore all the froth that comes from the media, social or not. I would like to say that I will enter silence, when in fact it is silence which needs to be allowed in.

In preparation for a retreat that some of us will be giving in a couple of weeks, I returned to notes received and taken last Spring in Manresa (IIC 2013) for our eight-day retreat. Fr. Cecil Azzopardi, SJ led it. I can read the same book several times and discover new gems every time I go back to it. It is the same with the retreat I lived several months ago. I was a different woman at the time. Like some earth turned over, I am open to thoughts that went unnoticed before.

In the silence of my being, Godde is waiting for me. She is waiting for me to show up and simultaneously to let Her in. Cecil compares each one of us to a mango seed. The mango is meant to become a mango tree. It does not make itself grow. It does it in the silence of the earth, where it becomes what Godde intended it to become. I cannot make myself grow either. What sort of a seed am I?

There is at the center of my being this energy of life which wants to unfold into its fullness, Cecil told us a little over a year ago.

Or again, We withdraw in silence from the reality around us to be able to come in contact with the reality of myself in the present unfolding of my life in me.

In my silence this morning, I opened to Godde and let Her see all of me, that of which I am aware and that which I cannot even begin to identify. My “unknown unknowns,” Bernard Lonergan would say. I lifted up my hangups, my pride, my anxieties, my lack of trust…

Each one of us is called to a different Lent. To each one of us His or Her Camino. Godde meets me wherever, whenever I am present to myself. For this I need silence.

Blessings on your own Way into Lent. Safe crossings.

Art: Montserrat Gudiol, Figura Arrodillada en el Jardin

 

 

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,

“Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said,

“For men it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God.”

Mk 10:17-27

Today’s Gospel is about the rich young man who walked away sad, and how it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a need than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of Godde… This has the disciples exclaim, Then who can be saved?, where Jesus replies, For men and women it is impossible, but not for Godde. All things are possible for Godde.

You may not think that you are rich. To find out you stand on the spectrum of wealth, go to Global Rich List. Enter your currency and how much you make; you will find out. For instance, if you live in the US and earn 25,000$ a year, you are in the top 2% richest people in the world by income. Surprised?

I truly like the fact that in the gospel, the disciples, who are not rich folks, are the first to exclaim, Then who can be saved? Who can, indeed?

We are approaching Lent. I am getting ready to enter the deepest, most moving times of our liturgical year. I will follow Jan Richardson’s Beloved e-retreat, while keeping abreast of Ignatian retreat(s). I will also read Vinita Hampton-Wright’s Praying Freedom, A Book of Lenten Meditations. I will discover the many “yokes” I carry on my shoulders and see which are those I need to remove and leave on the side of the road.

When the rich young man encounters Jesus and asks him what he needs to do to inherit eternal life, he hears that he must sell all that he has and give it to the poor. This young man is quite sad because he is very rich and cannot imagine giving it all, or most of it, to the poor. He is possessed by his money.

Were Jesus to ask me to give away my computer and never get another one, I would find it very hard — maybe even out of the question. Of course, I don’t know myself as well as Jesus knows me. Possibly, he would suggest something entirely different, which I would find even more difficult to give away.

Money, possessions possessing us, emotions keeping us unfree, addictions of all sorts, the time is coming to take a look at all those…

At the end of his post on Ash Wednesday, Marcus Borg writes:

… “dying to an old way of seeing and being and living and identity, and being born, raised, into a new way of seeing and being and living and identity. Ash Wednesday, as we are marked for death, is the annual ritual enactment of the beginning of that journey.”

This is so true. Ash Wednesday and Lent are a time when I can look at where I am alive and where I am not, where I follow Christ and where I do not, where I love my neighbor and where… I don’t.

Whether I will inherit eternal life for it, I cannot say. As Jesus told us yesterday, “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil’ …

Art: James Tissot, The Young Man Went Away Sorrowful