“It is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition. “ – from No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton
Monday, February 27
Curiously, it is the Spirit that drives Jesus into the desert. As you begin your journey through the season of Lent, where does it feel like the Spirit is driving you?
Tuesday, February 28
The desert is a wilderness, a harsh environment that can test any of us. What in your life feels like a desert? In what ways are you feeling tested? What are you learning in “the desert?”
Wednesday, February 29
St. Francis is believed to have once said, “Proclaim the Gospel every day, as a last resort, use words.” What is it in your actions, in your decisions, that proclaims the Gospel? Who, by her/his actions most effectively proclaims the Gospel to you?
Thursday, March 1
“This is the time of fulfillment.” There is a sense of urgency in this Gospel. The present moment is charged with the promise of the kingdom of God. What can you do today to make this “the time of fulfillment” and not just Thursday?
Friday, March 2
The kingdom of God is the place, the reality, where God’s will is done. The more we do God’s will, the closer we come to bringing about the kingdom. Today, find that place within you where God is. Know yourself as God’s beloved child. Try to see the world around you with God’s eyes. Now, ask yourself, what needs to be done?
Saturday, March 3
In reviewing your daily reflections on this week’s Gospel, what stands out? Has there been a moment or an insight that especially enlightening, puzzling, or revealing ? Did this week’s Lenten exercise lead you to any new decision or action?
Monday, March 5
This is my beloved Son ….” echoes the words from the story of Jesus’ baptism, affirming his identity as beloved child of God. Where, when, or how have you experienced affirmation of your identity as God’s beloved child? What does that mean to you today?
Tuesday, March 6
This mountaintop experience we call The Transfiguration illumined the minds of Peter, James, and John. They saw Jesus in a new way. Who do you need to see in a new way? How can you come to see more clearly “the beloved child of God” in those around you? What kind of blind spots prevent you from seeing the good in others?
Wednesday, March 7
One might say that the disciples had an extraordinary religious experience on the mountain. William James suggests that we should judge religious experiences by the actions that they inspire. What in your life has felt like an extraordinary experience of spirit? What action came from it?
Thursday, March 8
Who, by her/his presence, can renew your spirit? Who by his/her presence calls you to be a better person? What is it about you that has the power to call out the best in others?
Friday, March 9
We all have our moments “at the mountaintop,” moments that help define who we are; moments, maybe that we don’t want to end; moments of “coming awake.” Think about a time “on the mountaintop” and what it means to you today.
Saturday, March 10
Review your daily reflections focusing on the story of the Transfiguration. How about giving thanks to the Lord, right now, for those moments of grace, hope and love on which you reflected this week. Name them and thank God, one-by-one.
Monday, March 19
Jesus professes God’s love for the world, yet when we see or experience injustice, violence, or suffering the world can feel like an unloved place. Has there ever been a time when you doubted God’s love for you? What did that feel like? How can you help others move from doubt to the mature awareness that God’s love, while ever constant, does not exempt us from suffering?
Tuesday, March 20
Salvation and condemnation are presented in a startling new way in this teaching passage. They seem less the product of God’s judgement and more the real existential consequences of the way we choose to live life. Examine the direction of your life. Are you moving more deeply into life or are you making choices that slowly shut out life? Who are the people, what are the experiences that are drawing you more deeply into life? What can you do to be more receptive to life? How can you be a person that invites others to move more deeply into life?
Wednesday, March 21
In this Gospel teaching condemnation does not appear to be God’s work. Rather, it seems to be more of a “do-it-yourself” project. Think about the day ahead of you. Where are the places, what are the decisions, when are the moments that will present you with the choice; do you turn toward God and move more deeply into life or turn toward the darkness and shut out life?
Thursday, March 23
Thomas Merton, the great spiritual teacher and Trappist monk, once wrote,” Don’t believe that because you are not pleasing to yourself you are not pleasing to God. God does not ask for results. God asks for love.” We have all made choices that we would like to keep hidden in the dark. What are the things that keep you from being free to love?
Friday, March 24
God desires that everyone may have eternal life. Dwell on that statement – God desires that everyone may have eternal life. What does that mean for you?
Saturday, March 25
We are now into the second half of Lent. This may be a good moment to pause and take stock of how we are using this season. What has been good? Have there been any unexpected turns in your journey? How can you use the remainder of this Lenten season to move closer to God and more deeply into life?
Monday, March 26
What is unsaid is just as powerful and provocative as what is said in this Gospel passage. Jesus begins his teaching by drawing on the rhythms of nature. A grain of wheat must first die to produce great fruit. The unspoken yet obvious question for the listener is: what within you must die if you are to produce great fruit?
Tuesday, March 27
A great paradox is at the heart of this passage, i.e., whoever loves his/her life loses it. The unspoken yet obvious questions for the listener are: what kind of loving of your life could cause you to lose it, and what of your life can be lost?
Wednesday, March 28
The second part of the paradox continues as: whoever hates her/his life will preserve it. Again, the unspoken yet obvious questions for the listener are: what in your life needs to be renounced so that you can in fact preserve it, and what of your life can be preserved?
Thursday, March 29
Dying to self, on any level that we understand that to be, is never easy. Along with Jesus we, too, are troubled when the moment of decision comes. Recall and reflect on the power of your own experiences of dying to self.
Friday, March 30
If the Paschal Mystery, the passage of Jesus from life to death to resurrected life, is also the pattern for our lives, what can you do to prepare yourself for this profound transition? Who can you look to in your own life as models for making this passage well?
Saturday, March 31
The Sunday Gospels of Lent have taken us from the desert of temptation to the mountain of illumination. We have seen Jesus consumed with zeal for life lived in God’s presence. We have heard him profess God’s love for the world. And we have listened as he breaks open for us the great mystery of death and resurrection. As you review this past week and your reflections on its profound and challenging Gospel passage, take time to review your journey through Lent. Are you in a different “place” today than the “place” you were when Lent began? What changes have you welcomed? What changes have you resisted? In your prayer today, remember that this journey will not end with Lent and that God never stops inviting us to a deeper, richer experience of Divine Love.
Though tomorrow is Palm Sunday and Lent continues until sundown on Holy Thursday, this is our last reflection page. As we move into Holy Week, we hope that you might come back to some of your thoughts or notes that you have made for yourself and find in them a resource for your prayer and celebration of the Easter Mysteries.
This Lent, consider practicing almsgiving:
- by looking into getting involved in our North Lawndale Kinship Initiative*
- finding ways to support the works for justice going on in our city and neighborhoods
- responding with grace and generosity to requests for your time
- reassess where your time, attention, resources are going and possibly make adjustments so that they are aligned with your deepest values
Easter speaks to us of letting go – of risking the life and the world we know and love for a life and a world of even greater loving. The practice of fasting will:
- train us to RISK letting go of the familiar, to make do without the seemingly indispensable
- heighten our awareness of hunger and poverty in the world
- to overcome our fear of change and to embrace growth
This Lent, consider practicing fasting:
- joining the rest of the universal Church in observance of the Lenten Fast
- choose to add your own day/time of fasting to heighten your awareness for the ways God nourishes you
- abstaining from negative talk (complaining, stereotypes, etc.)
Easter speaks to us of restored relationships, of forgiveness and reconciliation, of people living as sisters and brothers. The practice of almsgiving:
- brings to light our dependence on each other
- calls us to reexamine the hidden roots of poverty and suffering
- challenges us to include justice as a part of all our decision making – in our work, our families, our civic lives, our investment choices, and our financial purchases.
The practice of prayer will:
- lead us into a deeper, more intimate relationship with the God who dwells in each of us
- help us to remember our deepest identity as beloved children of God
- nourish us so that we might live our vocation – our life and work in the world
This Lent, consider practicing prayer:
- through nightly 5-minute “overviews of your day,” looking for where God might have been present to you or where you might have missed God’s presence
- by celebrating our Sunday liturgies (7, 8, 9:30, and 11:15 a.m., and 12:45 and 5 p.m.) or our weekday liturgies (7 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.)
- joining us for Wednesday evening Lenten Vespers (Evening Prayer) followed by some quiet time with Christ in Eucharistic Adoration (6:30 p.m. in the church)
- listening to our mid-week Lenten podcast reflection, found on our Old St. Pat’s website
- celebrating the gift, joy, and sacrament of Reconciliation on Wednesday, March 21 (6 p.m. in the church)