Don’t Give It Up- Give it Away!~ Lenten Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest
The cactus flowers outside of my house remind me that we are about to enter the Lenten Season.
The Lenten season asks us to do some difficult work to set our lives aright. We are to identify that which may be dry and arid and
not so pretty within ourselves and our world-and work to set these things aright. The cactus is not usually considered beautiful, it
is dry and rangy and has thorns. Yet it also produces the most beautiful and surprising flowers.
Likewise we are far from perfect, as noted in my earlier blog, and yet our lives can produce the most beautiful flowers.
There are blooms of caring and compassion, there are blooms that are kind actions and reaching out to others in difficulty or pain,
there are blooms of seeking justice and peace inclusively, for ALL people, no matter what!
Sometimes we are more like the thorny cacti and sometimes we are the beautiful flowers.
Lent begins today, on Ash Wednesday. It is a time of following Jesus for the forty days before his horrendous death and glorious resurrection, it is a time of taking stock and acting differently when we fall short. The imposition of ashes in the form of a Cross on our foreheads is a symbol of the transience and brevity of life and a renewed chance to embrace the Christ who rises from the dead. It is a time of conversion, or turning it all around. In grade school we may give up candy or ice cream or chocolate or something we like. But as we mature in the faith and move toward becoming full- grown Christ-followers, we focus more on reviewing our relationship to our loving God and others and our inertia in doing what we can do to build the kin-dom of God on earth. We then move to giving more of ourselves in any way that we, uniquely, can give. So Lent is not so much a time of giving up things that may become priorities in our lives, but on giving ourselves once again to the God who loves us and to the people all around us, both near and far, who are in various types of need.
“Even now, says our God, return to me with your whole heart…rend your hearts,not your garments,and return to your loving god. For gracious and merciful is God,slow to anger,rich in kindness,and relenting in punishment”. (Joel 2:12).
“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Psalm 51).
“Be reconciled to God…Behold now is a very acceptable time; behold now is the day of salvation.”( Corinthians 5: 20-6:2)
“When you pray, go to your room, close the door,and pray to your Father in secret…”
In this time of prayer and renewed giving let us remember those struggling throughout the world. Let us get up,
go out and do what we can.
This year I am most moved by the work of CNEWA, Catholic Near East Welfare Association ( A Papal Agency for humanitarian and pastoral support).
The work they are doing in war ravaged Ukraine is nothing short of amazing. This is but one of their endeavors to provide rescue
work, medical support, food and shelter as well as training and education with all forms of practical help in the Middle East,
where earthquakes have just caused over 30 thousand deaths, and in Northeast Africa, India and eastern Europe.
If part of your giving this Lent is to give to charities you might consider this:
http://www.cnewa.org/ in addition to your favorite charities.
I also humbly suggest that you may be interested in my reflections of other Lenten seasons:
Just go into http://www.judyabl.blog and put a title in Search, or even the word “Lent” or a date–
“It is Lent:Choose Life-Reflections of a Roman Catholic Woman Priest”, 2/18/2021
“Finding the Road to Renewed Joy: the Lenten Journey of One Roman Catholic Priest” 3/11/2021
and then you might check any of these dates 3/5/2014; 3/5/2014; 2/19/2015; /2/17/2016; 3/1/2017;3/7/2020.
Pope Francis, in his Ash Wednesday Homily of 2014 said:
“With its invitations to conversion, Lent comes providentially to awaken us,to rouse us from torpor,from the risk of moving forward by inertia. The exhortation which God addresses to us through the prophet Joel is strong and clear:’Return to me with all your heart’ (Jl2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is not right in us, not right in society, in the church and we need to change,to give it new direction. And this is called needing to convert! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to create something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, always faithful,for God can not deny God’s self, God continues to be rich in goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start afresh. With this filial confidence, let us set out on the journey!”
So, indeed my friends, let us set out on the journey with hope,
Be Blessed, If feeling dry, be a Cactus Flower,
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries of SW Florida
Sent from my iPhone