Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And so it begins ...

Lent .. I plan, trust and hope that this Lent will be vastly different than past Lenten seasons.  The past week, I've been blessed with plenty of road signs directing me in a new direction.

So, some signs:
1)  Last Friday I flew to Calgary to attend the first Canadian ENDOW conference.  Beautiful women surrounded me.  They befriended me in ways that hasn't happened where we live now.  In addition, I was able to listen to some incredibly gifted speakers, speakers who spoke directly to my heart.

2)  I was invited to observe a True Beauty Revealed retreat being given to senior high age girls.  Wow!  So much to absorb, but the one thing that still rings in my memory are all the stories the presenter shared with the girls.  May I never forget John 10:10.

3) Adoration .. while there I stopped in for a short visit to the Adoration chapel .. and it rose in my heart that I had forgotten ... may I have the grace to remember.  In the business of life I had forgotten that He is always waiting in the tabernacle.

4) Mass on Saturday morning .. After the altar was reverently cleared, and before the final dismissal Janis Clark (you have go to find out about her ministry ... beautiful voice, beautiful woman) sang and lead us in a very beautiful Alleluia.  She had rehearsed with all of us prior to the rosary that preceded Mass.  That is when the tears began.  Again .. I had forgotten .. my own participation in the Mass had become routine.  We had just received our loving Lord in the Eucharist, He was intimately communing with each of us.  Allelulia!  Yes!  I had forgotten that mystery and blessing .. make me aware!

5) Confession ... a young priest with wise words.  I deeply felt the burden of sin, sins I didn't recognize until my heartfelt examine the previous evening, lifted from my soul.  Tears, again, of both repentance and thanksgiving.  I received a very apt penance .. to pray a rosary, and to name what I was thankful for before each Hail Mary.  Wow!  50 things/people/events.  I have been so blessed, and I was so unthankful, choosing to dwell on what "I wanted", what "I needed", what "I lacked" that I was running over some of those blessing and treating them as burdens.

6)  One of the speakers reminded me that we are each called to more ..  "If we stop at choosing the good over the bad, we miss the best."  The best is what we are made for.

7) Mass on Sunday evening ... Because of my flight schedule we were at the Sunday evening Life Teen Mass in our parish.  This is not my chosen Mass in part because it is a struggle for me to keep my mind from silently criticizing.  Father Tom'a homily reminded me that we are all called to live holy lives, and that unless we turn in prayer and ask for grace, we risk missing out on what our lives are meant to be.

8)  Loss of desire for many of those idle pastimes I had previously planned into my day.  Nothing sinful ... I enjoy doing logic puzzles, reading news, researching various passions ... all of which aren't bad, but they aren't the best, but they had come to dominate my mornings, as a compulsion I had failed to recognize.  Much, I imagine, the way alcohol can rule an alcoholic's life.  The world distracts me in so many ways, and I honestly don't have a moment to spare for nonsense.  This life is too short, and I need to use it wisely, to prepare for eternity.

9)  This post  The Lenten Thing

10)  Reading in the March Magnificat the Meditation of the Day "The Graces of Lent" by Father Vincent Nagle, FSCB.  He addressed the difference between the good reason we do things (religious practice so that God will be pleased with us) versus the real reason (religious practice so that people will think me faithful and charitable).  If the two aren't the same reason, our hearts are divided.  We only deceive ourselves, as "the Father who sees in secret will repay us in kind."

11) A reminder of how deeply I need to approach Lent this year  ... to truly reorient my life to God ... not just to satisfy the little checklist I had cultivated over too many years, trying to verify that I was "practicing my faith."  Instead help me to simply practice my faith, beginning inside (with prayer and contemplation) and working out  instead of working from the outside (gesture) and hoping it would change my heart.  Instead of me doing it on my own (which hasn't worked out so well, go figure) I'm asking (begging, really) God to help me.

In years past I have written about being in the desert falsely thinking that a dryness I felt was the same as what John of the Cross, or Teresa of Avila referred to.  It made me feel righteous.  Shame on me.  What I was in wasn't a desert,  it was more like riding in the air conditioned car through the desert.  I could see it, but I didn't experience it.  My world was still securely wrapped around me.  Oh, occasionally, I might have stopped and stepped outside for just a bit.  But, when it was too hard, I'd climb right back into my comfortable life.  Another sign was, again, found in the March Magnificat:

Intercessions ...
Lord Jesus Christ, in you dry bones are raised to life:
-- renew all those whose lives have grown dry with sin (raising my hand)  I wasn't in a spiritual desert through sanctity .. I was cooperating with sin and that sin had cast me from the conscious presence of God
"O God, be merciful to me a sinner."

Lord Jesus Christ, in you parched hearts find living water:
-- refresh all those whose spirits are parched form lack of prayer.  (waving my hand)  Yeah, about that prayer thing.  Feeling very convicted, especially since this weekend .. 
"O God, be merciful to me a sinner."

Lord Jesus Christ, in you the hungry feed upon the word of life:
-- nourish all those who have fed on words alien to the Gospel.  (crumbling into tears)  So many books, movies, television shows, shopping trips, music on the radio, all appearing to be "good" but in reality immersing me in a sludge, blinding my eyes ...
"O God, be merciful to me a sinner."

Convicted, sentenced, forgiven ... pray for me and know that I pray for you...

1 comment:

  1. You've been writing, and I haven't been reading! I have some catching up to do. This is a beautiful post, and boy, did I need it!
    thank you! (you know, like you sometimes need to get hit upside the head? ;)