Lent (February–April, 2020)
Lent invites us to clear the blockages within and among us, to come closer to Christ who alone can change our hearts and minds. From centuries ago, the words of Saints Elizabeth Ann Seton, Vincent de Paul, and Louise de Marillac still resound, full of wisdom and insight for today. They guide us as we seek to follow Christ. They are our mentors in the way of affective and effective love, the way of discipleship.
Charity Wisdom from Our Saints
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
That peace which is the portion of the chosen servants of God is seldom unmixed with interior struggles.
The first rule of Christian charity – to believe no ill [of others], if we have not seen it; and to be silent, if we have seen it.
‘Deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and those without shelter to your house’… poor, forlorn, despised, the son of Mary and the Carpenter, born on a journey and laid in a manger, in the neglected place, out of the inn ‘where they found no room,’ traveling in a foreign land, and coming back unknown and poor still, not having anywhere to lay his head, and living on the care of friends – How well could he call every poorest one another himself? How will you…sacredly view their adoption by him, his presence in them? You then who love him, love them.
St. Vincent de Paul
The poor who do not know where to go or what to do, who are suffering already and who increase daily, are my burden and my sorrow.
Do not worry yourself overmuch…. Grace has its moments. Let us abandon ourselves to the providence of God and be very careful not to run ahead of it.
St. Louise De Marillac
Ask God to put us in the disposition to listen and to endure all that is said for or against us so that none of it troubles us.
At the foot of this holy, sacred and adored Cross, I sacrifice everything that might prevent me from loving.
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From our Wisdom Figures
My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk…. Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease. Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the couch for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths…to take the path of the “craziness” of our God. – Pope Francis, July 2016, World Youth Day
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Jesus at his crucifixion…enters the darkness freely, voluntarily. The darkness is not dispelled or illuminated…. But he somehow encompasses it. It becomes the darkness of God. It is now possible to enter any darkness and trust God to wrest from it meaning, coherence, resurrection. – Walter Wink
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Christ came on earth, not to wear the awful cold beauty of a… statue, but to be numbered among the wicked, to die as one of them…. If Christ is not really my brother with all my sorrows, with all my burdens on His shoulder and all my poverty and sadness in his heart, then there has been no redemption. – Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
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Changes of heart are not accomplished by us. Only God can change our hearts. Only we can desire and beg for that change for ourselves and our world. Burning desire to be different, to make a difference, to recognize new life is what we need….
For some of us this will mean a commitment to an ideal, a cause, a vision bigger than ourselves…. For some of us it will demand an acceptance of limits that we want to deny,…loving the person we are now, not the fantasy of the person we once were. For some of us, it will mean changing the way we ‘always’ felt or thought about something… For some of us it will mean recognizing attitudes, perceptions, holding of past hurts, that we thought were long gone, but we recognize still living within us. For all of us it will mean a dying, so that the new will have a place to be born. – letter from SCNY Leadership Team, Lent 2019
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When I remember I am from dust, I make peace with where I came from. I choose to be what I am in fact while voicing my desire to be more…. Dust though we are, we can never find rest in being nothing but dust, having known the gentle touch of God’s fingers….
A human being is dust called to glory. To remain within that tension is a challenge…. To accept that my nature is defined by a sense of incompletion…is to embrace radical poverty. I know that the fulfillment of my being can only come from outside myself, as a gift. I cannot heave myself up to the heights I long to reach. But I can be carried there. – Erik Varden
Image: Photo of the cross in the sky by Sister Regina Bechtle, 2106.