Dearest parishioners and friends,
On our Lenten journey, we are called forth from the comfort of "successful" ways, "satisfactory" knowledge, and "sufficient" love. In this week's gospel (Luke 13:1-9), again, Jesus speaks to us in very strong terms. Why does he do so? Because he is upset? Jesus does not get upset like we do. Not because he is an emotional iceberg, but because, in his humanity, his emotions are perfectly "assumed" in, at the service of, purified by love. Our emotions are, well, all over the map! You may have noticed! Jesus lovingly gets "upset" (God is just), when He knows something is amiss (like the money-changers and merchants in the temple, engaging in commerce disrespectful of the sacredness of the place).
Jesus places His heart on the line for us, giving us gifts that we might be able to respond. And so He does expect us to respond with trust and honesty, allowing Him to work through us, indeed, to love through us. This is our calling. The Lenten journey is an adventure in love. It may seem daunting at times, because true love entails letting go, true love entails vulnerability. But, when it comes to Jesus, we are preceded and held in His holy and strong arms. Let us continue the journey!
Yours in Him,
Dearest Parishioners and Friends,
We begin our second week in Lent. The journey continues. Our theme this year, as you know (from Ho-sea 2:14) is: “I will allure you. I will lead you to the desert, and speak to your heart”. If love, by nature, intensifies, then the invitation to divine intimacy is extended more intensely with each passing day, even, each passing moment. So, if you are not off to a great start for the Lenten journey, worry not. Just surrender to the Lord, make a few resolutions, and He will, in His intensifying love, make up for wasted time. The Lord wastes no time.
As we continue the journey, the words of Mother Theresa shed great light for us: “As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst... ‘Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our in-difference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor. He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.” Amen.
Yours hope-fully in Christ,
The Lenten Journey
“I will allure you.
I will lead you to the desert
and speak to your heart.”
February 14, 2016
We have embarked on our annual Lenten journey, which is that of the Church, built around and expressed in her liturgy. And the liturgy is a response to the presence of the Lord in our midst.
There is reference to Lent as early as the 2nd century with St. Ireneaus (+203). St. Leo (+461), pope, preached that the faithful must “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the 40 days.”
During Lent, we are invited to particular spiritual focus and availability, designed to lead to renewal, i.e. to an awakening of our hearts and an enlightening of our minds. It is, of course, love that awakens the heart and light that, well, enlightens the mind. Christ communicates these to us in a special way in His Cross and Resurrection, two facets of a same mystery of the pouring forth of divine love and light.
The term Lent suggests all of this. “Lent” stems from the Anglo Saxon term “lencten” which means spring. The suggestion is that of a return to the source, which, for us as Christians, is the Cross and Resurrection, which is, if you will, the “place” of love and light, which is the mystery by and in which we are reborn.
Lent is not a period of spiritual calisthenics. Lent, really, is not our doing. It is a response to Someone else’s doing. This is perhaps difficult for us in a productivity and results-oriented society. The great challenge and liberation of Lent: learning to become more dependent on anOther. Lent is a time of letting go, of surrendering into the arms of the One who is Love.
“I will allure you.
I will lead you to the desert
and speak to your heart.”
Lent: an intimately personal yet wonderfully communal journey, a journey “by Him and with Him and in Him” (Eucharistic Prayer A) and to Him. The term “Lent” comes from the Old English term Lencten, meaning “spring”. What a wonderful metaphor to put into perspective what the Lenten journey ought to be. A spring is a refreshing source. During Lent, we are invited to discover afresh the source, the Source. Lent is about encountering the One who most intimately reveals the Source and is Source: Jesus, the Christ. “Whoever sees me, sees the Father.” (John 14:9). And, in this encounter, we are refreshed in ways that surpass understanding.
During Lent we do hear talk of discipline and penitence. These are important, but they are for the sake of love, to express love, and, even more, so to let ourselves be loved. Discipline and penitence are about opening wide the door of our hearts and lives to God, who always takes the initiative in love. “We love because he first loved us”. (I John 4:19)
For our theme this year, let us hear the Lord speak to us through the prophet Hosea. “I will allure her. I will lead her to the desert and speak to her heart.” (2:14) (or respectfully modified for our purposes: “I will allure you. I will lead you to the desert and speak to your heart.”) The prophet Hosea speaks of the relationship between Yahweh and His chosen people in terms of a marriage. Yahweh seeks his bride who has gone astray. The Church is, amongst other things, referred to as the Bride of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5). This means us! We have been spiritually espoused and, at times, we go astray. The Lord finds us. If this is truly to be a relationship, however, we must also let ourselves be found.
This Lent, let us indeed embark, with renewed intention, on a journey of love, to love, to be loved by the One who is love. “God is love”. (I John 4:8) Let us surrender to God, and go to the desert, that is, to that place of quiet—internal and/or external—aloneness, where He can freely speak His love and we can perhaps finally hear…
We have a Lenten calendar of rich offerings of prayer, fellowship, education, and outreach/service for everyone. As the Lord awaits us patiently in the silence, there will be opportunities for silent prayer. Adoration of the Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will take place every Tuesday, at high noon, and Thursday mornings at 6:45 (an amazing way to start the day!).
We have an array of topics being explored—be it at Coffee Hour, on Wednesday evenings after Mass, or elsewhere. One of the topics is forgiveness, a key aspect of the Lenten journey, which will be similarly explored once in Maryland and once in Virginia, in parishioner homes—in order to make participation easier.
We have a wonderful opportunity to serve in love. As throughout the year, parishioners prepare and serve dinner, bi-weekly, at the N Street Village night shelter. Established in 1973 by our neighbor, Luther Place Memorial Church (three blocks away), the Village offers a Wellness Center, a day and night shelter for homeless women, and residential programs for women fighting alcohol and drug addition and for elderly women suffering from mental illness. During Lent, we will serve on February 29 and March 8. If you would like to participate, please contact Chuck Bass via email at: email@example.com.
On Saturday, February 20, we will have a Lenten Quiet Day at St. Anselm’s Abbey, here in Washington: “I will allure you. I will lead you to the desert and speak to your heart.”
Friday evenings, there will be Stations of the Cross. Midway through Lent, March 4, Stations will be somewhat more “elaborate” with extended reflections and meditative music by our Choirmaster, Owen Burdick.
And, of course, do not forget the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Jesus awaits us here, in His mercy, in a very tender way. All that this requires is a phone call or an e-mail and a calendar.
Let us truly be in communion of prayer while we are on this journey, lifting one another up to the One who draws us and speaks to our hearts.
From the desk of the Rector