Wellspring Community

Retreat 2

JOURNEY THROUGH LENT (1)

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Take a couple of gentle, slow and deep breaths…becoming aware of your breath going in and out… stay focused on this breath of life……

Breathe in all that is of God and from God…all that is true, honest, pure, admirable, noble, decent, virtuous, worthy of praise, good, loving, kind – all that deserves respect..

Settle into silence, into peacefulness, into profound silence, into pure joy. Keep listening in quietness, stillness and serenity. Come to that place, that space within, that place of deep silence – Solitude…to just being here and now, without having to accomplish something.

Now I invite you to consecrate your time and all that come with this moment….in your own way, in humble, simple, may be even inadequate words………..

Every day that we wake up is a good day. Every breath that we take is filled with hope for a better day. Every word that we speak is a chance to change what is bad into something good….every moment of the day brings new opportunities and possibilities.

May this moment and all other coming moments open new doors for you and may God bless you with wisdom and courage to walk in faith, as you continue your journey through Lent!

Take a moment. Bless your day. Let your day Bless you……Take another moment. Bless your world. Let your world bless you……

We begin our Lenten Journey with a cross traced in ashes on the foreheads of all who come to Church on Ash Wednesday as a declaration of the necessity of repentance, of change of heart and of faithfulness to the Gospel values. This journey will end in Baptism and the renunciation of the forces of evil for some and for others a renewal of their baptismal promises.

We are reminded of the reality that each of us is frail and will return to the ground from which we were made. Our health and strength are temporary. Our bodies, sooner or later, will fail us and we will be gathered to our ancestors who have preceded us in death and decay. The cross traced in ash tells us also that our works as well as we ourselves are frail and temporary – buildings of stone and steel are like us who build them, frail and temporary. Ashes direct our attention to the transitory character of created realities, that nothing in this world is permanent; nothing in the world of matter is forever.

The journey that we begin in ashes will take us to the cross. In the cross we will see our sin, our suffering, our death – we  see our desire for revenge, our anger, our hatred, our resentments. We also see those who suffer, those with heavy burdens to carry. And much more, we meet the one who took away our sins, overcame death in dying for us.

We see much more in this cross. We see the infinite value of human life. We Jesus dying out of love for humanity, we see redemption, we see glory – we see the one who left the glory of heavenly home and entered into our life and into our death.

In the cross we see hope, we encounter love. The cross tells us that in the love of God nothing is lost.

From the ashes of destruction, we make our way to the cross of Christ and beyond it to the fire. Unlike the fire of terror, we encounter a purifying, life-creating fire that gives light to a dark and despairing world. It is the fire that lights the Paschal candle which proclaims: “the light of Christ”. It is the fire that brings us into the light of Christ and lights up our own path……….

Lent is an opportunity to check and maintain our integrity as Christians. Lent is an opportunity to check up on our spiritual health. Lent is an opportunity to strengthen our connection to God and to each other. The journey through Lent is a call to walk with Jesus – even pick up the cross – and make it to Jerusalem – to Easter – to Pentecost – to Community in Church.

Traditionally, Christians all over the world have used the disciplines of Prayer, Penance and Almsgiving as pathways of Lenten Spirituality. They still are wonderful and life-giving disciplines. They bring us closer to God and to God’s people.

Prayer strengthens our connection to God. Penance builds our character and helps us get rid of unhealthy habits which weaken our ability to love God, others and ourselves. Almsgiving helps us to care for others – to reach out to the less fortunate, the unfortunate, the disadvantaged, the poor, the marginalized and suffering people in our community.

The season of Lent is the spring time of the Church’s life. This season invites us to real, good house cleaning, to many cleansing, cultivating, nurturing and celebrating activities and events.

There are many beautiful imageries of the garden in the Scriptures beginning with the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Most people love garden……fresh green grass, colorful flowers, delicious fruits, magnificent trees……….you name it. There is something about garden that we celebrate………………

There is, however, something about garden that many don’t celebrate and enjoy which, some people like me, do celebrate and enjoy. It’s called gardening. Gardening means hard work. You have to get the soil ready for planting, dig out the weeds, turn over the soil…………..and much more!!!

The ground can be hard from the winter or heavy snow or the summer. The soil can be difficult to turn over and it can resist the hoe or the garden tiller and it could take many hours before the soil is soft and porous.

This part of gardening is essential….without this, gathering of flowers, vegetables, fruits, etc. just can’t happen. If green shoots are to push their way through the soil, the garden has to be soft and porous.

Hard and packed surface will not be able to receive the life-giving moisture of spring rains or sprinklers or watering cans. The water will run of and fail to soak the soil. Earth that is turned over is essential for watering the garden. If growth has to happen, our spirit also must be made ready.

We must open our minds and our hearts and our whole life to welcome the abundance of God’s goodness and Grace and be transformed by this gift in abundance.

Nothing prevents personal transformation more than closed mind or heart. Change can not take place if we cling to and clutch at what we think is unchangeable.

To be open is to be filled with wonder and awe and surprise……to be unafraid to hear new things….to meet new people with different values and ideas and beliefs.

To be open is to accept diversity and plurality…….to welcome questions that seem to have no answers……….to face problems that don’t seem to have solutions………

To be open is to see life as a joy….to be constantly amazed at the beauty and the wonder with which God graces us everyday….to allow new thoughts and ideas and inspirations to strengthen us for our ongoing journey of life…….to be like gardens whose waters never run dry. Be open….be not afraid……….do a little gardening to let your ground become soft and porous…………

My Prayer for you:

May your Lenten days of prayer, penance and almsgiving help you to be reborn in spirit, empower you to love without limits, teach you to pray constantly, help you seek the wisdom of God, enable you to live in compassion and help you celebrate the joy of Easter. May God bless you and your family and keep you safe in His Love.

Fr. Gus Tharappel,msfs

 

This is the fast that pleases me: to break unjust fetters, to let the oppressed go free, to share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor. If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word, if you give your bread to the hungry and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness. (Isaiah 58)