Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent can become a period of renewal

"As the Season of Lent is a call to conversion through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, John of the Cross, with his added insistence on conversion, is a good guide for the Season of Lent. For John of the Cross, conversion takes place when God calls the faithful to replace their usual way of finding fulfillment in life, with God himself.

Thus, with the guidance of John of the Cross, Lent can become a period of renewal, a period where we reorder our priorities from many things to one: God alone. We still have our work to do and obligations to fulfill, but throughout Lent we can learn to be for God alone and to find out reward in God alone.

Such an undertaking cannot be done by mere human willing; we need the help of God, which comes primarily through prayer. Lent and prayer go together like labor and energy. Without the energy that comes from food, we would have a hard time getting out labor done. The same is true with ordering our lives around God during Lent. Without the energy that comes from encountering God in prayer, we will not have the energy to center our lives around God alone, much like Elijah could not continue the journey to Mount Horen unless he ate the food given to him by an angel. Like Elijah, and in the words of John of the Cross, 'Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation.'

We can see that prayer is seeking God from the heart in one's spirit in order to commune with him who is pure spirit. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman, God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth (Jn 4:24). Thus, we must seek God in our spirit, created in his image and likeness, so that we can commune with Him who is spirit."

-- A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St John of the Cross by Fr George Mangiaracina, ocd

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