Tag Archives: lent

Lent asks us to live in simplicity

We can’t live in abstractions.  Reality as it is, God in Himself, is revealed in the concrete. The temptation is to let ourselves be consumed by what is non-essential, with things that burdensome or just plainly a pain. God is not known in the abstract; God is only revealed in the concreteness of life: in love, goodness, beautiful things, friendship, prayer, the sacred Liturgy, the proclamation of the Word, the sacred Tradition of the Church, and the like. Lent for some people is an abstract time of the Church’s calendar because they don’t necessarily know the aim, the goal, the necessity and the personal. What we all should bear in mind is that Lent is a simple time for getting back to basics so that these basics become virtue and virtue becomes a permanent way of looking at things in front of us. A little girl who does religious education following the method of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) focusses our attention in how she experiences this period of conversion. “What is Lent? Lent is a time of reflection, of preparing ourselves for the resurrection of Our Lord… by doing something that takes a great effort… a time of sharing and giving ourselves, body and soul to God and the Holy Spirit”  (Jessica, 9 years old, Chihuahua Mexico, Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 1984 – 1997, p.149).


Jessica’s rather simple declaration hopefully gives you pause during the day to give heart and the mind the space to do something other than work. Lent, like Advent, is a fitting to time of the liturgical year to reflect on the meaning of the Cross and the our Lord’s resurrection (this is what we call the Paschal Mystery). In what concrete ways does God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit capture our imagination –our heart? The founder of the CGS movement Sofia Cavalletti writes: “Simplicity also imposes a kind of asceticism, but it is an asceticism that is joyful, happy, dynamic, and opens out to spaces that are always becoming wider. It is an asceticism that is invigorating, filling the lungs with fresh air that empowers us to keep climbing toward the summit, where the space we will stand on might have become smaller, but the space before us, the panorama we view, will have opened out on the infinite” (“Holy Simplicity,” Journals of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, 2003 – 2008, p. 4).

You, Lord, have shown every mercy

Jesus & Samaritan Woman Guercino .jpg

O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness, who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving have shown us a remedy for sin, look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we who are bowed down by our conscience may always be lifted by your mercy.

Boston College Catholic students choose Gandhi over Catholic mystics for Lent


Vespers with St Gandhi.jpeg

Lenten
observances are varied: you can fast, pray the Way of the Cross, do charitable
acts, give alms, spend time in contemplative prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, do
lectio divina, pray the rosary, and the like. The possibilities are limitless. You might know, Catholics have a lot in their own
mystical tradition to deepen a relationship with the Blessed Trinity. And some real good stuff, too. So much so, that a Catholic doesn’t have to stray far from orthodox Christianity for prayer.

Doubtful,
however, is the spending any kind of energy on “Gandhi, Peace and Nonviolence” an acceptable alternative for Catholics. Especially when knowledge of the Catholic tradition is relatively low, even among theology students. But that is what the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry’s Lenten
focus was today. The idea is OK. Wait. It was pretty mediocre. Why not reflect upon peace and nonviolence
using music and select readings? At a Catholic school of theology and ministry
where students are paying tuition in order to be trained to be better Catholics, superb lay Catholic
leaders and teachers, and perhaps even priests, Gandhi just doesn’t fit during
Lent.

I wonder if anyone at a Jesuit school of theology and ministry ever
thought of focusing on one of the great spiritual fathers and mothers of the Church –Augustine, Ephrem, Aquinas,
Bonaventure, Lawrence of Brindisi, Hilary of Poiters, Loyola, Gertrude, Tauler,
Marguerite d’Oingt, Catherine of Siena, Giussani, Lubich, Benedict XVI– for Lenten
prayer and readings? Then, I have to wonder if Gandhi is BC’s type of Catholic and the list above are too obscure for mainline believers. Are these people too Catholic? Perhaps Gandhi is the new patron
saint of the liberal-blue hairs and they haven’t told the rest of the Church yet? Curious to know what Sister Quinn was
thinking.

This is not only a question of Catholic identity at a supposed Catholic institution of higher education, but a question of formation for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God. It is a question of helping each other know their destiny in Jesus Christ.

Transfiguration Sunday

Transfiguration Cretan 1550.jpg

 

Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ, our God, showing to Thy disciples Thy glory as each one could endure. Shine forth Thou on us, who are sinners all, Thy light ever-unending. Through the prayers of the Theotokos, Light-Bestower, glory to Thee.

 
The focus of today is not our self-initiated transfiguration but on our attentive listening to Christ and our worthy approach of the altar to be transfigured by the Risen Christ present in the Eucharist.
 
Can we approach the Transfigured Christ and allow him to change us?

Can Lent help restore joy?

Lent is perplexing to so many. Just look at the confusion on so many people’s faces as  they approach the priest giving ashes. They come to church to begin something but I sense many people have not a clue what to do, why and to what end. For example: ask the “average Catholic” what it means to pray, fast and give alms. Duck, you may get a robust answer, but you may get something that is way underwhelming, even moralist and abstract. Most answers you garner will say not be too consistent with Scripture and the Liturgy; moreover, it will have nothing to do with one’s humanity. Let’s deal with fasting. In today‘s reading from the Prophet Isaiah (58:1-9) we hear from God about what he expects of fasting: 


Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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