My friend Maria just emailed me these beautiful words from Blessed John Paul II:
It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. – JP2
I was thinking about these words a lot yesterday, especially in their relation to Lent. During Lent we try to give up good things— Lent isn’t about dieting or eliminating bad habits, but about giving up activities, objects and experiences that are not in themselves bad. When we miss them, we miss something good — but hopefully we remember that what we really miss is Jesus.
For example, I’m giving up wine because I really love wine. But if all I do on a Friday evening is complain, “ugh, I wish Lent were over so I could go have a glass of wine,” I’m totally missing the point. Giving up wine means nothing if I am not thereby trying to embrace Jesus, and remember that he is the “True Vine” and the true source of our joy.
Speaking of joy –
Here is a fascinating article on all the “Church Teachings that Pope Francis Has Changed” in the last year.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also a Catholic, joined the speaker in his invitation.
“Whether inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, who cared for all of God’s creation, or by St. Joseph, protector of the church,” Pelosi said, “Pope Francis has lived his values and upheld his promise to be a moral force, to protect the poor and the needy, to serve as a champion of the less fortunate, and to promote love and understanding among faiths and nations.” (ABC News)
Do you ever get the feeling some people don’t know what they’re asking for?
… “Whether inspired by Moses, who cared for God’s Law, or by David, protector of the Chosen People,” Head of the Pharisees said, “Jesus has lived his values and upheld his promise to be a moral force, to protect the Temple, to serve as the champion of his oppressed people, and to overthrow the Romans…”
Speaking of Romans –
Tomorrow is the Ides of March!
Sadly, it’s a Saturday, and so my sophomores and I will have to assassinate the dictator on Monday.
“Et tu, Brute?”
A great reflection to read during lent by Leah Libresco over at Patheos: “What Do We Choose Instead of Light? [Pope Francis Bookclub]”
When I choose against the light, it usually doesn’t feel like I’m picking darkness, but security or simplicity. There’s an attraction in having everything settled, even if it’s being settled for the worse (“I can’t count on anyone” “People just don’t like me” “I’ll never get along with her” etc). I sometimes prefer to circumscribe my relationships and my options, even if I might accidentally be throwing out a positive outcome.
And this has me written all over it:
But, in order to be a better person, I have to be a little comfortable being unsettled and in progress.
I hate being uncomfortable. I don’t know if this has always been true about me, but it is becoming increasingly true. It’s not so much that I go out of my way to sin or do bad things, it’s more that I can’t be bothered to change my habits or (God forbid) go out of my comfort zone to do the right thing.
Maybe this longing for comfort comes with age?
I appreciate little things more now. I LOVE sleep. And good food. And good drinks. And conversations, and sitting on the couch and reading, and sleeping in, and talking-on-the-phone-only-with-people-I-talk-to-all-the-time-so-it’s-not-awkward.
But this longing for comfort is a big occasion of sin for me, because I allow it to eclipse any desire to change, to reach out, to push myself.
Lent is a good time to consider these things.
Ms. Libresco’s words remind me of one of my favorite prayers, by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
“Accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”
So difficult – especially, I think, for young adults as we try to figure out “who we are supposed to be,” what our “vocation” is, et cetera.
Lastly, a shout out to two of my friends and fellow graduates of the University of Dallas: Molly O’Connor and Kaitlyn Willy who just started a wonderful project called Spiritual Uprising:
Spiritual Uprising aims to inspire and renew your creative and spiritual sides by providing a monthly retreat in the form of an e-magazine, blog, and weekly newsletter. (via tumblr site)
Check it out!