2021. február 17., szerda


I. Vocation and Discernment
Jesus is walking in our midst, as he did in Galilee. He walks through our streets, and he quietly stops and looks into our eyes. His call is attractive and intriguing. Yet today the stress and quick pace of a world constantly bombarding us with stimuli can leave no room for the interior silence in which we can perceive Jesus' gaze and hear his call. In the meantime, many attractively packed offers will come your way. They may seem appealing and exciting, although in time they will only leave you feeling empty, weary and alone. Don't let this happen to you, because the maelstrom of this world can drive you to take a route without real meaning, without direction, without clear goals, and thus thwart many of your efforts. It is better to seek out that calm and quiet that enable you to reflect, pray, look more clearly at the world around you, and then, with Jesus, come to recognise the vocation that is yours in this world.

I mentioned there that all of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend. Indeed, this is all the more important when some novelty presents itself in our lives. Then we have to decide whether it is new wine brought by God or an illusion created by spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil.

Such discernment, even though it includes reason and prudence, goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique an mysterious plan that God has for each of us... It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, and with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he'

(From Pope Francis' letter to young people, Christ Is Alive, articles 277-279)

II. Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, 'The fear of the Lord'

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But, if a person has not begun aright, how shall he/she finish aright? If a man has followed the wrong path from the beginning, he must go back and find the beginning, setting his feet on the right path. he who has not the fear of God cannot have love for God. The greatest ascetics, torturers of self who spent forty or fifty years in incessant ascetism, day and night, were filled with the fear of God right up to the time of their death; and these, the most sinless of mortals, cried out in the hour of death: 'Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!'

The fear of the Lord is the salt of devotion. If this salt is lacking, all our devotion is insipid and tepid. The fear of the Lord girds up the loins, encircles the waist, gives the heart sobriety, curbs the mind and chastises self will. Where is repentance without the fear of the Lord? Where is humility? Where is restraint? Where are chastity and patience, service and obedience?

Oh, my brothers and sisters, let us embrace this teaching as holy truth: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
(Bishop Nikolai Velemirovic, Prolog, 2 June)

A prayer specially written for Ash Wednesday and Lent 2021
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

The remembering is easier this year, O God,
our vulnerability and fragility
laid bare by a global pandemic.

The ashes of our former lives,
of our loss and lament are
front and centre, too close for comfort.

Returning with all our hearts,
with fasting, weeping and mourning
has been our long unchosen lent.

And yet we do come,
returning with hands open,
hearts tender and heads weary,

returning with tearstained faces,
smudged with the ashes
of sadness and grief.

Returning with questions,
sorrows, frustrations,
longings and hopes
that you will take the ashes of our lives,
this dust from which we are made and
reshape us, breathe new life into us,

giving us a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning
and a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
So help us, God,
[Written with reference to the Ash Wednesday liturgy, Joel 2: 12, Genesis 2:7 and Isaiah 61:3 by Wendy Lloyd]

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