Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Positive Lenten Practices

" In a flash, at a trumpet crash, I am all at once what Christ is, since he is what I am, and this Jack, joke, poor potsherd patch, matchwood, immortal diamond is immortal diamond."
Gerard Manley Hopkins

The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, referring to the lengthening of days in the spring. In Lent, our own spring cleaning and growth happens through personal encounter with Christ, says liturgical leader Sr. Margaret Mary Tapang, Sister Disciple of the Divine Master (a Pauline religious institute.) The word mystica explains the profound, dynamic spiritual experience that leads to conversion or metanoia, enabling us to spring to “life in Christ in the Spirit” (Rm. 8:2).  True conversion is nurtured by life centered on Christ: Eucharistic Master, Priest, and Liturgy. Prayer, reading of Sacred Scripture, and celebration of the Sacraments enable us to reach the goal of christification: “It is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). “God wants to rest in us, he wants to renew nature also through our conversion, he wants to make us participants in his divinity,” says Benedict XVI.

The rhythm of our daily life is so frenetic that we wonder if we even have “time” for conversion. Not to worry. God has time for us. God gives us his time by entering history with his word and his works of salvation, opening it to eternity and making time a history of covenant. Lenten liturgical time deepens our experience of mystica for an ongoing metanoia. Our Lenten sacrifice is to draw near to the One who loves us so much.

Here are some Positive Lenten Practices

Become Holy: In Hebrew, the verb to sacrifice literally means “to draw near” or "to make holy."  It is not up to us to renounce our lives, but it is up to us to draw near to the Lord Who makes us holy. [1]  The Spirit give us the perseverance to walk in newness of life so we can live in God. Father Guido, Society of St. Paul (another Pauline religious institute,) reminds us that Blessed Alberione insisted on positive sacrifice. For Alberione, all is oriented toward “developing one’s energies and putting them at the service of the glory of God and for souls ... [Lenten penance is] an effort to keep far from evil and to progress in virtue. It is renunciation, detachment, crucifixion, interior death. At the same time, it is a conquest, elevation, new life, true sanctification, resurrection, an education for the will, a setting out towards Heaven."

Prayerfully Read the Scriptures: The word of God is the creative power which transforms us into Christ. St Athanasius tells us, “The Word became man so that man might become God.” Is the word of God truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with God’s word to the point that it leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking? Or is our thinking is constantly being shaped by all the things that others say and do? (cf. Benedict XVI). Here are two ways to deepen your love for God’s letter to us:

 •Sr. Margaret Mary Tapang, sddm, hosts a
Lectio Divina site for sacred reading of the scriptures: Breaking the Bread of the Word

  •A Bible Enthronement ceremony in your home is a great reminder that God is present and active through his word. Here is a ceremony you may use:

Adore and Give Thanks: The Latin term for adoration, ad-oratio, implies physical contact, a kiss, an embrace, all implicit in love. In Eucharistic adoration, we give thanks for a love which knows no measure. Eucharistic adoration is union with the living Lord and His mystical Body the Church (cf. Benedict XVI). The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed the Eucharistic sacrifice “source and summit of the Christian life.”  The gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, where she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love. In Adoration, God works for our holiness. Saint John Paul II said in order to evangelize the world, we need experts in thanksgiving, celebration, adoration and contemplation of the Holy Eucharist.

Fast from Self-Seeking:  Encourage one another! There is no human being who does not need encouragement, who does not need a person who smiles at them, who treats them as a son and daughter of God is to be treated. Fast from self-seeking in order to encourage others. Every word of encouragement or of consolation that I say is a word of the Spirit. In encouragement, we restore others, repair injury and ask pardon just as Jesus restored people to wholeness. God transforms and enters into our world so that there truly is a river of goodness greater than all the evil that could ever exist. God invites us to join Him, to leave the ocean of evil, hate, violence, and selfishness and to identify ourselves with Him and enter into the river of His love (cf. Benedict XVI). We fast from desiring what others have in the way of gifts and talents by encouraging the good we see. “Rejoice always,” advocates Paul, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”(1 Thes.5: 16-18). As we encourage others, our words become God’s Word.

Through Mass and adoration, we become Eucharist, blessed and broken for others. In meditating on the Scripture we grow into God's Word. In our fasting, we become food for the poor. Through our prayer, we continue to open ourselves to the experience of mystica for our ongoing metanoia.
Blessed Lent!

[1] Abraham J. Heschel, God in Search of Man  (Borla Press in Italian)


 Sr. Margaret Kerry, FSP, celebrates 40 years of life and mission as a Daughter of St. Paul. With a Masters from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry, she gives presentations on the vocation and mission of the laity, media literacy, and evangelization. She directed the Association of Pauline Cooperators for 15 years and was creative editor of The Pauline Cooperator magazine. An author (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross), Sr. Margaret is working on a young adult book. You can reach her at

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