St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Each Lent I prepare myself for the forty days ahead beginning with a spiritual pep talk. I know that may sound funny, (as if it might be very difficult to get through Lent!), but God has been good every year in helping me to stumble upon just the right words that I will need to refer to often; only a few words that will help provide focus (and re-focus). This year is no exception as I've found the words of St. Augustine to provide just the right encouragement needed. Taken from Christ is Passing By (St. Escriva), we read:

"Remember what St Augustine said: 'If you say enough, you are lost. Go further, keep going. Don't stay in the same place, don't go back, don't go off the road.' Lent should suggest to us these basic questions: Am I advancing in my faithfulness to Christ, in my desire for holiness, in a generous apostolate in my daily life, in my ordinary work among my colleagues?"

Certainly there are many areas in need of improvement in our lives. Let us reflect seriously on those areas personal to us this Lenten season and go to work on them. Certe bonum certanem! Fight the good fight! If you need a pep talk -- I'll be here.

Here are some additional thoughts from St. Escriva, regarding Lent:

"We are at the beginning of Lent: a time of penance, purification and conversion. It is not an easy program, but then Christianity is not an easy way of life. It is not enough just to be in the Church, letting the years roll by. In our life, in the life of Christians, our first conversion — that unique moment which each of us remembers, when we clearly understood everything the Lord was asking of us — is certainly very significant. But the later conversions are even more important, and they are increasingly demanding. To facilitate the work of grace in these conversions, we need to keep our soul young; we have to call upon our Lord, know how to listen to him and, having found out what has gone wrong, know how to ask his pardon.

"If you call upon me, I will listen to you," we read in this Sunday's liturgy. Isn't it wonderful how God cares for us and is always ready to listen to us — waiting for man to speak? He hears us at all times, but particularly now. Our heart is ready and we have made up our minds to purify ourselves. He hears us and will not disregard the petition of a "humble and contrite heart."

The Lord listens to us. He wants to intervene and enter our lives to free us from evil and fill us with good. "I will rescue him and honour him," he says of man. So we must hope for glory. Here again we have the beginning of the interior movement that makes up our spiritual life. Hope of glory increases our faith and fosters our charity; the three theological virtues, godly virtues which make us like our Father God, have been set in motion.

What better way to begin Lent? Let's renew our faith, hope and love. The spirit of penance and the desire for purification come from these virtues. Lent is not only an opportunity for increasing our external practices of self-denial. If we thought it were only that, we would miss the deep meaning it has in christian living, for these external practices are — as I have said — the result of faith, hope and charity."

(These excerpts taken from St. Josemaria Escriva: Christ Is Passing By, Points 57, 58)

Miracle of the Bread and Fish, by Giovanni Lanfranco courtesy of Web Gallery of Art

God bless you with a profitable Lenten Season.


Esther said...

Beautiful Denise! This is the first year that I was actually looking forward to Lent. After reading your post, I think I know what God wants of me.
God bless,

Denise said...

I'm so glad Esther. I have a confession though...this was my post from last year, and I didn't have time to update it...but am in the process of doing so. However, it still applies the way it is, I really do intend on changing that. Just the "focus". Check back and you'll see a "revisited" version :)

Wishing you a beneficial Lent!