Posted by: liturgicalyear | February 27, 2014

Lenten Preparations: Prayer

There’s a saying that goes, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” How true!  With Lent fast approaching, I encourage you to aim at something very particular as you plan your Lent. Aim specifically and with intent, and you will achieve your goal.

The Church gives us the liturgical year to help us order our days, to draw closer to God, and to grow in holiness.

How will you unwrap this gift? With eager anticipation? With hopeful joy? With fear and trepidation? Will you unwrap it partially? Will you unwrap it at all? How we open this gift will make all the difference in our observance of Holy Week and our celebration of Easter this year.

Each Lent, the Church urges us along 3 parallel paths:

  1. Prayer
  2. Fasting
  3. Almsgiving

In her last post, Barbara wrote about fasting. Today, I write about a particular form of prayer, which I believe, will be powerful during this Lenten season: meditating on the Passion of Jesus.

Last night in adoration, the Lord led me to a passage in St. Faustina’s diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul. I see it as the road the Lord wants me to walk during this Lent, and I invite you to consider joining me.

August 5, 1933, The Feast of our Lady of Mercy.

266 Today I received a great and incomprehensible grace, a purely interior one, for which I will be grateful to God throughout this life and in eternity……

267 Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion, and by such meditation much light falls upon my soul. He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus. When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before. I want to resemble You, O Jesus, – You crucified, tortured, and humiliated. Jesus, imprint upon my heart and soul Your own humility. I love You, Jesus, to the point of madness, You who were crushed with suffering as described by the prophet [cf. Isaiah 53:2-9], as if he could not see the human form in You because of Your great suffering. It is in this condition, Jesus, that I love You to the point of madness. O eternal and infinite God, what has love done to You?….

St. Faustina’s words “I want to resemble You, O Jesus” and “I love You, Jesus, to the point of madness” convict me of the shallowness of my love. To be honest, I don’t love Jesus to that extent.  Why is it that my love is so shallow even though he has loved me beyond my dreams?  What is it that holds me back from loving him so deeply?

O eternal and infinite God, what has love done to You?….” Therein lies my reluctance – look at what love did to Jesus! If I love like that, will my fate be the same? Will God allow me to be crucified like Jesus? Will I be scourged, mocked, rejected, imprisoned, scapegoated?

Quite plainly, I am not willing to suffer that way.

Isn’t that the rub? We don’t want to suffer. We’re afraid that to love Jesus fully means that God will take everything and everyone away from us.  We’re willing to suffer, but in the way we ordain: “…anything but that, Lord!”

There’s something in me that believes I will bring calamity on myself if I completely consent to God’s will.  Yet, the voice of Truth reminds me that nothing happens to us outside the will of God. God’s will in my life happens in each passing moment. My response to the events and circumstances He allows in my life pave my way to heaven, and in loving in each of those moments I pass through “the narrow gate.” (Mt 7:13)

So, if I really believe that God sent Jesus into the world out of love for us and that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross were the greatest acts of love in the history of mankind, then I can learn a lot about love by meditating upon his Passion. I may or may not be called to suffer along the way.

I must also remind myself that God’s plan for each of us is different. St. Faustina was a cloistered nun; she died young. I am a wife and mother, and I’ve already outlived her. My path is different. God’s will for me, is for me, and no one else.

In that knowledge, I must ask: Do I really want be holy? Do I really want to go to heaven? Do I really want to give God permission to transform me? How I answer the last question reveals the truth of the answers to the first two.

I know that the main reason I hold back in giving my complete “yes” to God is because I don’t trust him.

As hard as it is to admit, it’s the truth, and it means that I need to pray for healing. I know with my intellect that God loves me beyond human understanding, but my heart still needs to be formed.

This Lent, I give God permission to transform me. I don’t know in what manner God will call me to love, but with my will I say, “Yes,” and by the grace given me through prayer and the sacraments, I will repeat it each day. The Lord is telling me now that the best way to form my heart in an understanding of God’s love is to meditate on the Passion of Jesus.

Won’t you join me? 

Jesus, I trust in You!  Anne

The Passion of Christ is comfort for us.
He comforts us readily and kindly and says:
All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.
                                                              ~ Julian of Norwich

Suggested resources for meditating on the Passion of Jesus:

Meditations on the Life and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by John Tauler (c. 1300-1361) Online

Meditations on the Passion of Christ by Bishop Fulton Sheen  Listen online

How to Meditate on the Passion of Christ by Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus (Tan Books)  Online

Meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ from www.crypton.org

St. Faustina’s Meditations on the Passion from Mercy Song

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ  by Anne Catherine Emmerich

Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord by St. Alphonsus Liguori (downloadable booklet)

Downloadable audio talks on suffering (scroll down) from Lighthouse Catholic Media

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