Monday, April 28, 2014

divine mercy

I had thought yesterday that I would write something about Divine Mercy Sunday, but gave priority to spending some time in Adoration, offering prayers for a few special intentions. As I was at prayer last night, I found myself considering the thought that sometimes, when we pray for others, we must understand, and be at peace with, the fact that we may never know (at least, in this life) how God answers our prayers in the lives of those for whom we pray. Of course, that should be far secondary to our thoughts, because we should be focused on praying for those in need of our prayers - but in all our humanity, I would imagine that many of us have thought about this before.

As I pondered this, I was browsing through a prayer app on my phone, and found a prayer I had never seen before. I found dual significance in both its subject, and its author - I took St. Maximilian Kolbe as my patron saint when I was confirmed several years ago. It only seems right to me to share it here. Reading this last night reminded me that intercessory prayer is itself an act of mercy, to which we are called by God - and that, as always, God's ways are far above our ways - there is nothing beyond him; he holds all of time and space, all of our joys and sufferings.

Divine Mercy, indeed. Jesus, I trust in you!

A Prayer of St. Maximilian Kolbe
The day was long,
The burden I had borne
Seemed heavier than I could longer bear
And then it lifted – but I did not know
Someone had knelt in prayer;
Had taken me to God that very hour,
And asked the easing of the load, and
In infinite compassion, had stooped down
And taken it from me.
We cannot tell how often as we pray
For some bewildered one,
Hurt and distressed,
The answer comes,
But many times those hearts
Find sudden peace and rest.
Someone had prayed, and Faith, a reaching hand,
Took hold of God, and brought Him down that day!
So many, many hearts have need of prayer.
Oh, let us pray! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

it's Easter!

"If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, alleluia." 

I hope everyone had a blessed and happy Easter Sunday! 

It's a bit ironic that my last post had to do with silence. Ironic, because I hadn't intended to wait so long before blogging again after writing that! I'd thought I would try to blog my way through Lent - and ended up observing "blog silence" instead. 

That silence was motivated by a couple of things - first, a real - and unanticipated - need to actually be "silent" in terms of social media, limiting my Facebook and blog intake and output, and secondly, the level of crazy and busy that my life has catapulted to over the past few weeks. I'm used to things being at least a little crazy, and I'm used to being more busy than I want to be - but it really has been at an entirely new level for the past few weeks, and it's limited the time I've had for other things. 

No, it's not going to calm down any time soon, that much I can tell, but hopefully I am starting to acclimate to it a bit more. Adaptation, you know. It's important! 

In any case... Lent was truly beautiful this year; Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter Sunday, so wonderful. It truly is all beyond words; I am inadequate to the task of description, except to say that our Lord is good and loving, and loves us far beyond our imaginings. 

True Easter joy. At home after the Easter Vigil, I found myself unwilling to go to bed in the early moments of Easter Sunday - and sitting in my living room, pondering the Resurrection, and feeling kind of like a kid on Christmas, with the best gift EVER. Resurrection. Easter. Eternal joy. 

Yet all of this Easter wonderfulness has made me think again about Lent. If the point of Lent is to strengthen our discipline and help us to grow closer to God, why are we sometimes so willing to cast aside all of our Lenten discipline as soon as Easter arrives?

Don't worry - I'm not suggesting that you should drop that chocolate bunny you're munching on right now. I'm simply suggesting that, if we who try our best to love the Lord and work toward serving him with pure hearts and minds, have strengthened our wills to do so through our Lenten practices... why do we so easily forget those disciplines when Easter arrives? 

I went to Mass tonight (eh, last night, as I am now posting this Wednesday morning) and when I walked into the chapel, I was immediately struck by how few people were there. Last Tuesday, the chapel was quite full. This evening, only a handful of people were there. 

Lent is over, I get that. What I don't understand is... Easter is here - so why did everyone leave? If we go through 40+ days of Lent, trying to grow stronger in our walk with God, why are we so willing to give up those things that helped us grow in strength, just because Lent is over??

It's EASTER, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. The season of the Lord's resurrection. Shouldn't we still be filling our churches on the weekdays, coming to receive the Eucharist, seeking that sacramental food that strengthens and sustains us? The Eucharist - truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ - is transformative. 

Do we really understand what we were doing during Lent? Why do we work to be close to the Lord for 40-ish days, and then drop the routine and go back to business as usual? 

(Note: yes, of course, I realize not EVERYONE does this... but I also realize that there are plenty of us - myself included - who have done it before!)

Lent should change our lives, should alter our way of life. I'm not saying you should give up caffeine or chocolate permanently. What I am saying is, we shouldn't only pursue self-mastery and a deeper relationship with the Lord during Lent. I think we all need a sense of Lent in our lives, all year long - because until we pass from this life to the next, we haven't run the race, we are still competing. Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said it well:

"If a man is ever to enjoy communion with Christ, so as to have the blood of God running in his veins and the spirit of God throbbing in his soul, he must die to the lower life of the flesh. He must be born again. And hence the law of Calvary is the law of every Christian: unless there is a Cross there never be the resurrection, unless there is the defeat of Calvary there will never be the victory of Easter, unless there are the nails there will never be the glorious wounds, unless there is the garment of scorn there, will never be the robes blazing like the sun, unless there is the crown of thorns there will never be the halo of light, for the law laid down at the beginning of time which shall be effective until time shall be no more, is that no one shall be crowned unless he has struggled and overcome."

Alleluia! Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!