First week of Lent

On Ash Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis invited all believers to be ‘islands of grace’ in an ‘ocean of indifference’.  It’s a great starting point for Christians in guiding themselves during this Lenten season.

Lent is a season of mercy; it is a season where each of us asks forgiveness from our merciful God, as we live out our hope to be made worthy of the gift of salvation that Christ bestows on us through His Passion, Death and Resurrection.
It is also a time that, in asking God for mercy, we are expected to show mercy – if we would truly call ourselves disciples of Jesus, Christians.
I am reminded of the writings of St. Ignatius of Loyola concerning the two ‘standards’ (meaning the flags of military-style camps); there is the standard of Christ, and the standard of the devil. Underneath the standard of Christ, are mercy, compassion, forgiveness, charity and love; beneath the evil one’s standard are cruelty, selfishness, revenge and indifference.
We are given a choice in our actions each and every day, both towards God and towards each other.
As the knight in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ said, ‘choose wisely.

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Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

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…what to read, what to read…

For those of you following along, I’ve posted the next instalment in the short story…

…which leads me to my main point (and while I am honoured that anyone is reading the short story, the reading of it is not the main point of this post…if that makes sense,,,)

With Ash Wednesday,we once again enter into the season of Lent, a season of self-denial, of prayer and of alms-giving. It is a season to take stock of our relationship with God and others, and to seek ways to sift through the ‘debris’ we’ve accumulated and cleanse ourselves of it, emptying out those spiritual (and in some cases material) closets full of ‘junk’ and making room to enter more fully into the awareness and understanding of the great miracle and message of Easter.

One of my traditional lenten practices has been to find something to read which challenges me, yet is uplifting and insightful; something that ‘pricks’ my conscience, yet reinforces somehow the sense that I am loved and invited into an ever-deepening relationship with the One who created and calls me by name.  While there are many and varied books out there for spiritual reading, the quality of content is just as varied – some are outstanding in their insightfulness, while others – well, there are others (I’m trying to be charitable here after all).

But I have found, you can’t go wrong with the classics.  These have stood the test of time, written by some of the most gifted minds (and pens) that the Church has been blessed with; in some cases (for example, The Confessions of St. Augustine) the lives of the saints who wrote them have been stories of inspiration in themselves.  In other cases, we don’t know the authors at all (The Cloud of Unknowing).

Some years I have re-read books which have provided new insights with the re-reading (The Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena are a good case in point).

In any event, this year I will be delving into the Cloud of Unknowing. As with any spiritual reading (and especially classics) it’s best to take small ‘bites’ to take time to read and sit with the material – to let it ‘percolate’ as one friend puts it.

This is not a blog for book reviews. I share this simply as a suggestion for those who are looking for some type of spiritual activity/exercise to supplement the very basics of Lent – of prayer, of self-denial, and almsgiving.

May your Lent be a fruitful, blessed and holy one.

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Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!