Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem
“As to your Lent… I can only tell you my own experience. A mass of good resolutions, I think, are apt to end up in disappointment and to make one depressed. Also direct fault-uprooting: it makes one concentrate too much on self, and that can be so depressing. The only resolution I have ever found works is: ‘Whenever I want to think of myself, I will think of God.’ Now, this does not mean, ‘I will make meditation on God,’ but just some short sharp answer, so to speak, to my thought of self, in God. For example:
‘I am lonely, misunderstood, etc.’‘The loneliness of Christ at his trial; the misunderstanding even of his closest friends.’…This practice becomes a habit, and it is the habit which has saved me from despair!”
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“Prayer is not about changing God, but being willing to let God change us, or as Step 11 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says: “Praying only for the knowledge of his will”… True prayer is always about getting the “who” right. Who is doing the praying, you or God-in-you, “little old you” or the Eternal Christ Consciousness? Basically prayer is an exercise in divine participation—you opting in and God always there!”
~Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations
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Here we are on the third week of Lent, and I could not tell you how well I’m doing with my Lenten resolutions. The honest to God truth is that I’m having a hard time remembering those well balanced and thought-out decisions that I came up with on Fat Tuesday as our family sat around the table and shared out loud our Lenten resolutions.
Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t believe in making them, or that I don’t think having resolutions is an important part of Lent.
It’s more that, in these simultaneously short and very long first three weeks of Lent, I have found myself operating and managing life events around me with very little of me available to give. Like the widow’s mite, I’m giving from where it “hurts,” if you will.
The blessing of being aware of my own lack, of my diminished supply of self, is, of course, that I know without a doubt that anything that I am able to do or able to give, all I have to offer, is clearly not mine—it’s all God’s grace.
It reminds me of a memorable story about Catholic author Flannery O’Connor that I read recently. A young writer once asked O’Connor to look over an article that the young woman was writing on O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
The young woman wrote that O’Connor’s work merely notes that it is impossible to know how to be one [a good man], but O’ Connor disputed the writer's reasoning.
“Not at all,” Flannery O’Connor said in her characteristic matter-of-fact blunt honesty. “It is possible to know how to be one. God became man partly in order to teach us, but it is impossible to be one without the help of grace.”