Reblogging this once again . . .
There are so many artistic depictions of the Annunciation, but one of my all-time favorites is one that a good friend of mine gave me a few years ago. You can see it below. Not too long afterward I came across a poem by Luci Shaw that seemed to have been written for it. I share that with you as well. Thank you, Mary, for your earth-changing yes. . .
As if until that moment
had happened since Creation
As if outside the world were empty
so that she and he were all
there was–he mover, she moved upon
As if her submission were the most
dynamic of all works; as if
no one had ever said Yes like that
As if that day the sun had no place
in all the universe to pour its gold
but her small room
“If I should fall a thousand times a day, a thousand times a day I will begin again, with new awareness of my weakness, promising God, with a peaceful heart, to amend my life. I will never think of God as if he were of our condition and grows weary of our wavering, weakness, and negligence. . . . Rather, I will think of what is truly characteristic of him and what he prizes most highly, that is, his goodness and mercy, knowing that he is a loving Father who understands our weakness, is patient with us, and forgives us.”
Venerable Bruno Lanteri, spiritual counsels
Three and a half minutes of inspiration for us all. May God give us the grace to live and die this well.
Do you feel like your flagging during Lent? Mother Mary Francis has the best answer for what to do!
[Jesus] is always going forward to save us. How strange if we were not that eager to be saved in the little events of every day. His footsteps were on the way to the Father. They were unflagging. He always kept going. His footsteps were always unswerving. They went straight ahead in the will of the Father. He knew where he was going . . .
For ourselves, we know that our steps are quite often flagging. We lag. We sit down. We get tired. What are we to do when our footsteps are flagging? There is a simple answer. We get up. Sometimes we become discouraged in a prideful way and we think, “Well, what is the use?” What we are really saying is, “I don’t want to make the effort to get up.” For us to have unflagging steps fitted to his, we have to be always getting up, because of our weakness, our sinfulness. It could be a wonderful thing indeed never to fall, never to flag, but it is a wonderful thing to get up. This can be a true inspiration for the poor sinners we are: that our footsteps become more unflagging according to how often and how quickly we have gotten up.
Another picture that our Lord loves to use is that of the shepherd who goes out to look for the sheep that is lost. So long as we imagine that it is we who look for God, then we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about: he is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And he knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape from him, we run straight into his arms.
So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us hope of salvation. Our hope is in his determination to save us. And he will not give in!
This should free us from that crippling anxiety which prevents any real growth, giving us room to do whatever we can do, to accept the small but genuine responsibilities that we do have. Our part is not to shoulder the whole burden of salvation, the initiative and the program are not in our hands: our part is to consent, to learn how to love him in return whose love came to us so freely while we were quite uninterested in him. (Simon Tugwell, O.P.)
Sometimes we just get fixated on the wrong things during Lent. Or perhaps a better way to say it is: distracted by things different than God wants us to focus on. Or we just get discouraged. I found this advice by Marge Fenelon to be excellent and very helpful for me. Hopefully for you as well.
Relaxing into Lent
As a little girl, I was extremely melancholic, to the point of finding myself every so often sinking into bouts of sadness or loneliness. Sometimes, I’d just feel “lost” for seemingly no reason at all. Nothing was ever truly wrong but at the same time, nothing was ever truly right, either.
Sure, there were things that could have had me down – my dad’s heart condition, the occasions of family discord, or the solitariness of being the youngest child who trails her siblings by several years. Our house certainly could get quiet and lonely at times. Yet, there was never anything I could directly relate it to. In fact, all these years later, I still can’t figure out the cause of those sensations. They were sudden, and they were strong. That’s all I know.
Read the rest here.
Is it just me, or do temptations increase during Lent? And what to do with them? I think we all can be afraid of temptations. Our Pope Emeritus suggests a simple way to deal with them:
“. . . to a disciple who expressed the desire to discover ‘the causes of the different temptations that had assailed him’, Barsanufius replied: ‘Brother John, do not be afraid of the temptations that arise against you to put you to the test, do not be determined in trying to understand what it is about; rather cry out the name of Jesus: “Jesus, help me!” And he will hear you because ‘the Lord is near to all who call upon him.’ Do not be discouraged, run with ardor and you will reach your end in Christ Jesus, our Lord!”
And these words of the ancient Father are also valid for us. In our difficulties, problems, temptations, we must not simply engage in a theoretical reflection from whence do they come? — but must react positively, invoking the Lord, maintaining a living contact with the Lord. Beyond that, we must cry out the name of Jesus: ‘Jesus, help me!’ ANd we may be sure that he listens to us, as he is near to those who seek him. Let us not be discouraged; rather let us run with ardor–as this Father says–and we too will reach life, Jesus, the Lord.” (Benedict XVI)