Lenten Shopping!

I did some shopping yesterday at Faith@Work.  I wasn’t intending to buy a lot, but there was such good stuff to read!  And my patronage supports many great charities….  So, here’s the loot I got!

Magnets for the fridge

CD: “Year for Priests” by Lighthouse Catholic Media

Books:
Common Ground
Common Ground: What Protestants and Catholics Can Learn From Each Other

Spiritual Dangers of the 21st Century by Rev. Joseph M. Esper

Living God
The Living God

A Father Who Keeps His Promises
A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture

Love is Stronger Than Death
Love Is Stronger Than Death

The God Who Loves You
The God Who Loves You: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

To Know Christ Jesus
To Know Christ Jesus

Talking to God about Unity

For your reading pleasure, here is an excerpt from my prayer journal regarding a passage from The Lord“>”The Lord” by Romano Guardini.

In speaking of the people You raised from the dead, he says, “It is expressly stated how profoundly shaken Jesus is by these encounters. At such times, He seems to step into the fate of the individual, ordering the events of the world from the inside. For one instant created by the Savior’s love, a human heart forms the decisive center of world reality.”

Reading this makes me think that somehow unity is essential. Which is why miracles cannot occur if I do not have faith. If I am not open to having You inside me — united to me — then I cannot benefit from Your transforming power which you want to share with me. Because you don’t work exteriorly, but interiorly, even with the physical world?

Somehow, the concept of knowing something or understanding something means that you must penetrate the surface and get to the core of that entity. To control water, you need to understand water in all its aspects — you need to get inside it and almost become the water to see things as water sees things so as to effect change. So, too, with men and men’s hearts — with the necessary allowances made for our free will.

I think that is the problem most of the time; we either don’t let You in, or if we do, we hold back — trying to remain attached to what is us and under our control and thus thwart (to a greater or lesser extent) that unity which You seek and by which You can heal us.

Not to say that if we block You, that You do not have many other avenues to try to reach us, through other things and people who are open to You, but I think the efficacy would be better, more direct, more powerful, if we would submit and allow for this complete unity with You.

Keep Your Focus on the Lord

This passage from the reflection in the Magnificat really resonates with me:

“When you feel that you have done your best to amend your life according to the laws of the Church, give yourself in earnest to the contemplative work. And if the memory of your past sins or the temptation to new ones should plague your mind, forming an obstacle between you and God, crush them beneath your feet and bravely step beyond them. Try to bury the thought of these deeds beneath the thick cloud of forgetting just as if neither you nor anyone else had ever done them. If they persist in returning, you must persist in rejecting them. In short, as often as they rise up you must put them down….
When distracting thoughts annoy you, try to pretend that you do not even notice their presence or that they have come between you and your God. Look beyond them — over their shoulder, as it were — as if you were looking for something else, which of course you are. For beyond them, God is hidden in the dark cloud of unknowing. Do this and I feel sure you will soon be relieved of anxiety about them. I can vouch for the orthodoxy of this technique because in reality it amounts to a yearning for God, a longing to see and taste him as much as is possible in this life. And desire like this is actually love, which always brings peace.”

This speaks to me on a couple of different levels. First, we were talking about some mystics in Theology class on Thursday and how both of them saw as the summit of prayer life contemplation of God. St. Teresa of Avila, in particular, piqued my interest — so I bought 3 of her books and will work on reading them this Lent. Second, this passage speaks of that sin that you keep doing — almost against your will — and how to try to overcome it by not letting it get in your way, but to keep picking yourself back up, going to Confession, and making the choice every time to follow Jesus. It is too easy, when faced with repeated failure in holiness to despair and think that this particular thing is beyond you. Yet God gives you grace all the time, and nothing, NOTHING, is beyond His power. Nothing is stronger than God. Trust in Him and keep seeking after Him.

What an amazingly graced day today has been! I started off by watching a catch up session for my Epic church history study, followed by reading the Magnificat. This reading has been so inspiring to me, and so helpful in starting to plan out my Lent. Then, I got to get my hair done — something which has been woefully neglected for far too long. I had a quick lunch, then got to spend some time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet with some friends. Next, because I was feeling a little indicted by St. Teresa, I took the opportunity to participate in Reconciliation. I got some materials to aid me in my Lenten project, and came home for some more reading, a lovely dinner, and some Wii (I made my brother’s Mii a Pro at tennis!). I think I’ll shortly retire for the evening and continue my spiritual reading.

I can’t wait for tomorrow! If today was so good, I can’t even imagine what the Lord’s Day has in store for me! 🙂

Jacob

While I was at school today, my brother helped my new boy move in. He is basically all situated, with only a few things that we still need to find a place for. I’m really excited about him living here and think we will have lots of fun together, although I am pragmatic enough to know that we will have our quarrels as well.

Pre-Lenten Questions

Believe it or not, but Lent is just around the corner!
And I don’t even have my Christmas tree down yet!

Lent is this great period of time where we rid our lives of all the unnecessary attachments that we clutter our lives with and focus more closely on our relationship with the Lord. It should be a time of simplification and purification. It should be a time of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. It should be a time of generosity, love and charity. It should be a time of sober self-reflection.

It should be a lot of things.

What will it be?

That’s up to me.

What am I going to put into it?

God gives us grace all the time. The thing is we have to respond to that grace which is offered. It is too easy to put something off for tomorrow or rationalize our way into spiritual laxity. We can justify all kinds of neglects and omissions, particularly when it comes to our own spiritual lives, because we don’t see that as being harmful to anyone. Then, we arrive at Easter, look back at our Lent and perhaps wish that we had spent more time in prayer, or done a few more acts of charity.

What is the main reason for a mediocre Lent? Poor planning. We need to set our goals in mind NOW and work NOW to make sure that we have a rhythm to our season. Praying is most consistent if you set aside a certain time and place — every day — when and where you pray. Lent needs to be for us not some onerous thing which we take upon ourselves for 40 days. Lent shouldn’t be seen as a kind of self-imposed slavery, but as a practicing in the life which we hope to have one day in Christ. A life where we are prayerful and loving of our brothers and sisters. A life where we truly live out the Gospel. God didn’t make us for slavery, and doing things which are pleasing to Him shouldn’t be seen as such. It’s just our sinful selves which distort the truth of reality and make us to see our unhealthy attachments as the path to happiness, when they are in fact leading us in the opposite direction.

So, my challenge to myself, and to you, if you choose to join me, is to map out our plan for Lent, so that we can reap all the graces our Lord is offering to us.

Reflection on the Didache

I had just started reading the Didache and came across this passage:

“You shall not hate any man;
but some you shall reprove,
some you shall pray for,
and some you shall love
more than the breath of life that is in you.”

And I just stopped reading.

It caught my heart. My soul wanted to scream its assent to this truth.

This is what it means to love. This is what it means to be a total gift of self. This is what we are called to do.

Some you shall love more than the breath of life that is in you.

Of course, the rest of the message is important, too. We should not hate, we should pray for others, and, yes, we ARE our brother’s keeper and sometimes that entails reproving one another, but always with love.

But it is this last part that speaks to me. God is calling me to abandon myself to Love of Other, and, in this moment, my will is beyond eager to wring out every drop of life within me — every breath in my body — to be Love, to do Love and to show Love to another. At the moment, this is particularly directed at that person whom the Lord has placed upon my heart to intercede for, on a continual basis; but I can feel, on the margins, the sense that as I grow in this, I will be called to expand my gift of love, of utter self-abandon, to others. For this is not just a gift to this one person, or to these several people, but it is ultimately a gift, if you will, to the Lord Himself. A small response to the enormous outpouring of love which he bathes me in daily.

As I have said before, “my struggles for holiness are no longer merely for my own sanctification, but because prayers of holy men and women are more efficacious (James 5:16, 1 Peter 3:12).” And so, the deeper I grow in holiness, the more I am able to truly love. The more that I can open myself to love my neighbor — love as an active verb, a decision of the will — the more my will is conformed to the Will of the Lord and the more I will be receptive to and attentive to the perpetual presence of His Love for me.

Something like this:

God loves me –> I respond with love for neighbor and God –> I am more aware of God’s love for me :||

“You shall not hate any man;
but some you shall reprove,
some you shall pray for,
and some you shall love
more than the breath of life that is in you.”

God Bless!