LENT: Saturday of the Third Week in Lent, by Henri J. M. Nouwen

From Show Me The Way

Come, let us return to Yahweh.
He has rent us and he will heal us;
he has struck us and he will bind up our wounds.
Hosea 6:1, 2

Living a spiritual life requires a change of heart, a conversion.  Such a conversion may be marked by a sudden inner change, or it can take place through a long, quiet process of transformation.  But it always involves an inner experience of oneness.  We realize that we are in the center, and that from there all that is and all that takes place can be seen and understood as part of the mystery of God’s life with us.  Our conflicts and pains, our tasks and promises, our families and friends, our activities and projects, our hopes and aspirations, no longer appear to us as a fatiguing variety of things which we can barely keep together, but rather as affirmations and revelations of the new life of the Spirit in us.  “All these other things,” which so occupied and preoccupied us, now come as gifts or challenges that strengthen and deepen the new life which we have discovered.  This does not mean that the spiritual life makes things easier or takes our struggles and pains away.  The lives of Jesus’s disciples clearly show that suffering does not diminish because of conversion.  Sometimes it even becomes more intense.  But our attention is no longer directed to the “more or less.”  What matters is to listen attentively to the Spirit and to go obediently where we are being led, whether to a joyful or a painful place.

Poverty, pain, struggle, anguish, agony, and even inner darkness may continue to be part of our experience.  They may even be God’s way of purifying us.  But life is no longer boring, resentful, depressing, or lonely because we have come to know that everything that happens is part of our way to the house of the father.

Prayer

O Lord, this hold season of Lent is passing quickly.
I entered into it with fear,
but also with great expectations.
I hoped for a great breakthrough,
a powerful conversion, a real change of heart;
I wanted Easter to be a day so full of light
that not even a trace of darkness
would be left in my soul.
But I know that you do not come to your people
with thunder and lightning.
Even Saint Paul and Saint Francis
journeyed through much darkness
before they could see your light.
Let me be thankful for your gentle way.
I know you are at work.
I know you will not leave me alone.
I know you are quickening me for Easter–
but in a way fitting to my own history
and my own temperament.

I pray that these last three weeks,
in which you invite me to enter more fully
into the mystery of your passion,
will bring me a greater desire to follow you
on the way that you create for me
and to accept the cross that you give to me.
Let me die to the desire
to choose my own way and select my own cross.
You do not want to make me a hero
but a servant who loves you.

Be with me tomorrow and in the days to come,
and let me experience your gentle presence.
Amen.

“Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)

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