His Love Did Burn

PALM SUNDAY

Alone I weep, and lost, in hurt and pain.
My dreams seem shattered; mind’s lamp flickers low.
I blame myself, but how am I to blame?
No grand design to build, nowhere to go.
The world turns its uncaring eye away.
I live or die: ’twill not be written much;
And as the sleepless night brings troubled day,
I long for crumbs of comfort, human touch.
Yet soon is Easter, and my thoughts now turn
To One Who, palm-applauded, still rode on:
His face set flint, as all His love did burn:
A cross awaiting, for God’s only Son.
And as my tears descend, as winter rain,
I know Love lives, and I shall love again.

David John, Oxford, England.

A good way to start

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.

 

Jesus, help me!

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)

10 little steps with Mary

Found this excellent article on walking through Lent with Mary:

In the wee hours of the morning, shivering from the cold, damp interior of the darkened Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, I lingered in prayer at the rock of Calvary. Resting my hand on the cold rock where the noble cross of Jesus Christ stood upright on the first Good Friday, I prayed. Oh, how I poured my heart out! I was in a spiritual place of desolation when I arrived on retreat in the Holy Land having just gone through a big upheaval in my life. Doors closed, paths turned, and the future seemed unclear to me. I was searching and completely open, available and docile to the next phase of God’s plan for my life.

Read the rest here.

Is success the point of Lent?

Some surprising thoughts from a gal who is not Catholic, but observing Lent this year:  Ann Voskamp on “Why Failing at Lent–May be Succeeding at Lent?”

I can’t seem to follow through in giving up for Lent.

Which makes me want to just give up Lent.

Which makes me question Who I am following.

Which may precisely be the point of Lent.

You can read the rest here.  (She has some pretty nice freebies on her site as well.)

“As to your Lent . . . I can only tell you my own experience.”

Wonderful Caryll Houselander writes:

As to your Lent . . . I can only tell you my own experience.  A mass of good resolutions, I think, are apt to end up in disappointment and to make one depressed.  Also direct fault-uprooting: it makes one concentrate too much on self, and that can be so depressing.  The only resolution I have ever found that works is: “Whenever I want to think of myself, I will think of God.”  Now, this does not mean, “I will make a long meditation on God,” but just some short sharp answer, so to speak, to my thought of self, in God.  For example:

“I am lonely, misunderstood, etc.”
“The loneliness of Christ at his trial; the misunderstanding even of his closest friends.”
Or:
“I have made a fool of myself.”
“Christ mocked–he felt it; he put the mocking first in foretelling his Passion–‘The Son of Man shall be mocked, etc.’–made a fool of, before all whom he loved.”
Or:
“I can’t go on, unhelped.”
“Christ couldn’t.  He couldn’t carry the cross without help; he was grateful for human sympathy–Mary Magdalene–his words on that occasion–other examples as they suggest themselves–just pictures that flash through the mind.”  This practice becomes a habit, and it is the habit which has saved me from despair! . . .

Different people have different approaches to Christ.  He has become all things–infant, child, man–so that we all can approach him in the way easiest for us.  The best is to use that way to our heart’s content, and not to trouble about any other.

Striving for a spiritual life

A very common trend I see during Lent is that of folks trying to figure out a spiritual program for Lent–without consulting God on it.  Sometimes God is just asking us to live our lives in a holy way in the day-to-day events in which He has placed us.

There can be so much escapism in our striving for a “spiritual life.”  We often flee from concrete, apparently banal reality that is filled with with God’s presence to an artificial existence that corresponds with our own ideas of piety and holiness but where God is not present. As long as we want to decide for ourselves where we will find God, we need not fear that we shall meet him!  We will meet only ourselves, a touched-up version of ourselves.  Genuine spirituality begins when we are prepared to die.  Could there be a quicker way to die than to let God form our lives from moment to moment and continually to consent to his action?  (Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.)

It’s just one cup of tea

The season of Lent is almost upon us, it begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, we are asked to take on three traditional Christian disciplines: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Today I want to share with you a new insight into fasting which I gained recently.

I’ve generally always dreaded the idea of fasting during Lent. It always seemed to me like a test of endurance, and I never thought I had all that much endurance. Typically I would decide to, say, give up biscuits for the whole of Lent. It would last about ten days, I would have a biscuit and Lent would be over for me. And no matter what people would say about ‘beginning again’ it would never feel the same once failure had set in.

Now, I have learned a new approach to fasting, and it has become a much more appealing prospect.

St Therese of Lisieux teaches us that the “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.” These words made me realise that the way I had been approaching the Lenten fast in the past was wrong. Lent is not a test of endurance. It is not even a test of discipline (even though we gain discipline as a by-product). Lent is a little test of LOVE. It is quality the Lord is interested in – not quantity.

I can describe this new approach to fasting – the little way of fasting – with an example. Here is a fast I recently undertook:

At breakfast time I didn’t have my normal cup of tea. I had a cup of hot water instead. It’s not much of a sacrifice is it? But this is the important part: fasting must always be accompanied by prayer. You may remember from the Gospels that on one occasion Jesus told the disciples that a particular evil spirit could only be driven out by prayer AND fasting. The two must be always occur together.

So while I was having my cup of water, I prayed.

I spoke to the Lord Jesus and told him that I was denying myself this 1 cup of tea as an act of love for him. I was doing this so that I might grow in my love for Him. I prayed for others. I asked Him to grant my intentions, but above all I asked him to help me grow in faith and love of Him.

It didn’t matter that it was only a small sacrifice. That’s not what matters to the Lord. What matters is that the sacrifice is accompanied by prayer and offered with a sincere and open loving heart. Fasting must always be accompanied by prayer, and must be done as an act of love for the Lord.

Perhaps you would prefer to go through Our Lady. While fasting, we can also pray through the intercession of Mary, our blessed Mother. I can tell her I am offering my fast as an act of love for her, and ask her to bring me closer to her son Jesus. We give Mary the title ‘mediatrix of all graces’ so we can of course pray through her intercession.

With this approach, fasting has become a wonderfully joyful act. Rather than a miserable endurance test, it becomes a joyful act of offering a sacrifice for the good of others, the good of the Church and above all the good of my own soul. I can have a smile on my face, knowing that the small sacrifice I have made has had a powerful effect in the spiritual life. Since I started this little way of fasting, I have prayed better and I feel I have drawn closer to Christ.

It’s just 1 cup of tea. A little thing, done with great love.

During Lent, I won’t totally deprive myself of other drinks, because I know I would find that too burdensome. My aim is to give up my first cup of tea each morning. On some days I may give up my second cup of tea too! – a definite sacrifice, but one I can realistically sustain.  And each time I am conscious of foregoing a drink I would like, I will pray. I will offer my sacrifice to the Lord with a joyful heart and a smile on my face.

I will offer my Lenten fasting for your intentions, for the people who read this blog. In particular I will pray that those of you who need to do so will make a good confession in preparation for Easter, because confession is so important.

And if any of you would like me to pray for a particular intention of yours, please contact me through this blog in the comments section below. I’d be happy to offer my fasting on a particular day for your personal intention.

I hope you will find these words about fasting helpful during the coming season of Lent.

Fr Aidan.

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Bright sadness

Sometimes it helps to look at things with a new perspective.  Here is the Orthodox perspective on Lent.

“The Lenten season is meant to kindle a ‘bright sadness’ within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection.” (Alexander Schmemann)

Ponder that one today and may you long for your relationship with God in any ways that it may be lost.

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