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Month: February 2013

Fast? Let’s Feast!

Fast? Let’s Feast!

Lent can’t only be about fasting…there’s SO much that we can learn to feast on, as well!


Lent should be more than a time of fasting.
It should also be a joyous season of feasting.
Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others.

It is a season to turn to God:
Fast from judging others; feast on the goodness in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent: feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives: feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feasts on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that supports.
– William Arthur Ward

Lent 2013

Lent 2013

People sometimes ask the question, “What do you like better – Christmas or Easter?” While many people gladly say, “Christmas!,” I’m the person who usually says “Easter!,” but with the add-on, that it is Lent that is really my favorite season in the year.

After experiencing the 19th Annotation (here’s a link I found about the 19th Annotation spiritual exercises) during my mission year with Cabrini Mission Corps in NYC, the hours I specifically spent in prayer during those 40 Lenten days were some of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have ever had. Having the opportunity to journey through contemplative prayer, and other forms of prayer using the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola (ex. lectio divina, contemplative prayer, the examen, etc.) for those days during Lent, really changed my life.

And so, since then, Lent has become my most favorite time. It is, also, not necessarily a happy time full of celebrations, considering it follows the pain and suffering of Christ, but it is the spiritual journey that I seem to find most fruitful for me. Sure, we may “give up” things like chocolate, or facebook, meat, or trying our best not to judge people, or we may do things additionally, like, wake up 15 minutes early to read a passage from the Bible, or pray a rosary or a decade of the rosary everyday (clearly, I have thought of this), but moreso, getting an understanding for the meaning behind this season is what we’re goin’ for.  And that’s what gets me.

Fast. It brings me back to trying my best to live simply and for me to recall what it is that I need, and what I can do without. Pray. This Lenten season is a check-in for me and my prayer life – am I just allowing my mind to run off and go in circles or am I spending time in prayer and contemplation with God? Almsgiving. And, how can I serve others with the things which I own or gifts/talents that I possess? For me, this season calls for a full on self-check in.

And then, before I know it… at the end of this windy, challenging road of reflecting on myself, and accepting my weakneses and imperfections, and loving all of those parts wholeheartedly, because they are what make me who I am… then it is Easter! Another reminder that, not just once a year, but every day, there is the promise of renewal and new life.

Amen? AMEN!

May you be blessed this Lenten season and draw closer to the One who loved you first.

And remember:

“To achieve its goal, voluntary simplicity must be undertaken in the spirit of adventure…. Richard Gregg, who coined the term in 1936, once complained to Gandhi that while he had no trouble giving up most things he couldn’t let go of his books. Gandhi told him he shouldn’t try: “As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, you should keep it.” He pointed out that if you give things up out of a sense of duty or self-sacrifice, they continue to preoccupy you and clutter your mind.” – Philip Slater, Wealth Addiction

Check out the links for some helpful Lenten resources! Peace.

discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness.

discomfort, anger, tears, and foolishness.

As we begin this Lenten season, may we enter into a deep experience with Christ, and may God anoint us with the following… And so we pray:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

 May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. (A Franciscan blessing)

AMEN.

forever and ever!

forever and ever!

This is by far one of my most favorite paintings of all time. After reading Henri Nouwen’s, “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” (i highly, highly recommend this book, by the way) two and a half years ago, this story and this painting have continually stood poignant in the back of my mind. It is such a reminder of God’s unconditional love – if only we would allow ourselves to be loved, and to see ourselves as God sees us. No matter what!

One of my classmates had this painting printed out on the front cover of his binder. We then shared with each other why it’s such a good one – for him, he works with people struggling with addiction and it helps him and his clients in his ministry. For me, it is another reminder of our humanity, but the refuge and forgiveness that we may always find in the mercy of our Father. 

One of my greatest mentors reminded me that it may certainly be a life’s journey to accept ourselves – our failings, our weaknesses, our mistakes we have done in the past. But, perhaps this painting can provide us with some daily dose of real, unconditional love, that we may so often forget about.
 

 “The Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt

“Returning to God’s Ever-Present Love” – Henri Nouwen

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn’t approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God’s love. Evil does not belong to God.
God’s unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say
or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God’s ever-present love.
 
finding the meeting place

finding the meeting place

some words of wisdom from frederick buechner on this fine monday morning. hoping that you find sincere joy in your work, in all you do, and with the people you find yourself surrounded by – from day to day.

life is fragile, and if there is any way that we can strive to live our deep gladness every minute of every day, i say we do it. and if we can’t, let’s at least try. 

Amen? 
AMEN.

The Place God Calls You To

Frederick Buechner
There are all kinds of different voices calling you to do all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God, rather than that of society, say, or the super-ego, or self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is the following: the kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you most need to do, and (b) that the world most needs to have done.
If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you’ve probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by your work, the chances are that you’ve not only bypassed (a), but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.
Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do.
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and 
the world’s deep hunger meet.