Category Archives: Lent 2012

Holy Saturday: In the Hands of God

Hold Your Horses!

We are not a patient people anymore.  We want… we want… we want it NOW!

Television / internet / cell phones / text messages / advertising and marketing condition us toward instant gratification / immediate satisfaction.  But Holy Saturday is a day of waiting… an important time to wait in darkness to see what new life God will restore in each of us.  As Jesus lay wrapped and buried in the cave, so we also must lay still in the silence, longing for God’s hands to deliver us into freedom.

Retreat Day 4:  Holy Saturday

1.  Begin this retreat by going to a place all alone.  Sit on the floor and wrap yourself in a blanket in a way that will put you in as much darkness as possible.  Close your eyes and sit still.  Imagine that you are in the tomb like Jesus… waiting and waiting and waiting… not fully dead but not fully alive.

Where is God?  You were certain that God was going to save you, but so far… nothing.  Where is God?  Stay there for a while.

2.  When you are ready, go over to your computer and listen to this…

3.  While you were waiting in your tomb, did you feel like you were in the hands of God?  What other times in your everyday life do you feel like God’s hands are holding you?

4.  Retrieve your paper/journal that you have used these past few days.  Using a different color pen or marker, write a prayer to help you remember that you are always in the hands of God.

5.  Finish your retreat today with this…

Tomorrow… Easter Sunday:  Light Up the Sky

Good Friday: Sweetly Broken

Knock You Down!

This is a day that will knock you down if you let it.  There is so much to pray about and reflect on that the Holy Spirit can totally change everything about you if you allow it to happen.  Set this day apart from all your other days by beginning with 5 minutes of absolute total silence and an empty brain.

Let God fill you with holy thoughts.

Today is Good Friday… a strange name for such a difficult day.  But we are lucky to know “the rest of the story” and so we understand that today is indeed… good.  Jesus giving up his life for us means that we have a chance to go to heaven.  In my book… that’s pretty amazing.

Retreat Day 3:  Good Friday

1.  Before you begin the rush of another Friday, look and listen and pray…

2.  The really great message in this song is found in the refrain:

At the cross you beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
and I am lost for words
so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken
holy surrendered.

3.  What great act of love could bring you to your knees in awe?  Take this thought with you for your day.

4.  At the end of the day, use your paper/journal to draw pictures or write words about what you saw / heard / felt in the ordinariness of your in’s and out’s.

5.  Before going to bed, come back to this music video and play it again.  Let it fall into your dreams this night.

Tomorrow… Holy Saturday:  In the Hands of God 

Holy Thursday: You Are More

Forrest Gump’s famous words might have been Jesus’ words at the Last Supper.  The disciples gathered for what they thought would be an ordinary Thursday night dinner and then it all turned into something so much more.

The theme of today’s Triduum retreat:  You Are More.  Jesus thinks you are worth everything.  And Love is about to do something amazing in your life.  Stay tuned.

Retreat Day 2:  Holy Thursday

1.  Gather your supplies… paper or journal artwork masterpiece that you created yesterday… writing/drawing stuff… Bible if you have one… your computer/internet.

2.  Like yesterday, carve out about 15 minutes of quiet time when you can be free of distractions.  Turn off your cell phone and your iPod; make yourself promise not to stray on the internet and click onto other sites that catch your eye.  Focus on this small chunk of time only for prayer.

3.  Close your eyes and for a few moments, reflect on a meal that you recently shared with someone special.  What do you remember most?  the food?  the people?  the conversation?  On your paper/journal, make a list of all those things that made it a memorable event.

4.  Now imagine that meal was to be your last.  Would you have done anything differently?  Done something more?  Not done something at all?  What would you change?

5.  Look and listen and pray…

6.  Open your Bible to the Gospel of John and read chapter 13:1-17 or click this link:  Jesus washes the disciples’ feet.  It’s pretty short and it has a lot to say about how we are called to love.

7.  Add to your paper/journal by reflecting on these questions:

Do I feel worthy?  Why or why not?
How does God see me?
How do I see others?

Say a prayer for all those people as you meet them.

Tomorrow… Good Friday:  Sweetly Broken.
{ { Hint for tomorrow:  Set this day apart from all your other days by waking up a little extra early in the morning and beginning with 5 minutes of absolute total silence and an empty brain.  Let God fill you with holy thoughts. } }

Holy Wednesday: Remind Me Who I Am

You’re back!  So good to see you!

Now we can begin our Triduum retreat… a day early!

To start off, gather a few simple supplies… paper or journal… writing / drawing stuff (consider markers and/or crayons)… Bible if you have one… your computer / internet.

1.  Carve out about 15 minutes of quiet time in your day when you can be free of distractions.  Turn off your cell phone and your iPod; make yourself promise not to stray on the internet and click onto other sites that catch your eye.  Focus on this small chunk of time only for prayer.

2.  Find a piece of paper or a journal and collect something to write with… maybe even markers or crayons.

3.  Watch this great music video from Jason Gray:  Remind Me Who I Am… maybe watch it twice!

4.  Here are some reflection questions:

What do I need to be reminded of?
Where do I experience God’s goodness in my life?
What do I need to remind other people of?

Using your paper and markers, draw some pictures or write some words to answer these questions.  Take about 5 or 10 minutes.

5.  Put your artistic masterpiece somewhere that you will see it regularly–near your bed / on the bathroom mirror / in a notebook or calendar.  Look at is several times a day to remind yourself of who you are and who you belong to.

Tomorrow…  Holy Thursday:  You Are More.

Holy Tuesday: How do we become holy?

How do we become holy?

It’s a worthy question.  There are so many ideas about what defines holiness… and sometimes it’s hard to figure out.  The Church says that all people are called to be holy… in who we are and how we live.

Before we begin our Triduum retreat, take some time today to think about your own sense of holiness.  Do you feel holy?  Or not?  Either way… it’s okay.  Don’t feel guilty if there are things about yourself that you want to hide.  We all have those hidden selves and choices that we’re not proud of.

What’s important is that we want to become better people… we desire to change.  Let that prayer set the tone as you enter into this time of retreat.

Key thoughts to remember on your retreat

Holiness is nothing more than becoming your authentic self.  Key word here:  authentic.  This isn’t about narcissism but about having faith in yourself as a human creation of God.  Become who you are meant to be in God’s eyes.

Effort and difficulty are adversaries of spiritual development. i.e., the harder you try, the more you fail… probably because you’re not being your authentic self (see above).  Artificial prayer and contrived spiritual practices are like forced conversation… they never feel or fit right.  And if it doesn’t feel or fit right, why would you keep doing it?

Accept your own vulnerability. Love becomes strong when you’re not afraid to admit that you need help… with everything.  Vulnerability is not a matter of self-pity or woundedness; it means allowing yourself to be human… and dependent… and worthy of being loved even when there is nothing you have done to earn it.

Accept where you are in life.  Avoid working to create a false self in endless pursuit of achievement which invites people to consider your record rather than your heart, your resume in place of your presence.  Humanity is limited; God has created you to bloom.

Use your natural human emotions for spiritual growth.  Anger / greed / selfishness show us as much about ourselves as love / peace / forgiveness.

Reject the tendency to organize life rigidly.  Ardent religious and spiritual seekers tend to believe there is a “right” way… which is merely another means of wanting to control the journey.  Sorry, but God doesn’t work that way.

Jesus did not strain to be who he was.  He didn’t teach in fancy or mysterious words.  He told stories and parables… opening the way to God for everyone through him.

We need a strong spiritual life to help us maintain the commitments and responsibilities of the everyday.  So remember this:

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Let holiness emerge from the way you live.
  3. Do not seek or avoid vulnerability.  Let it come.
  4. Become peaceful wherever you are.
  5. Develop your emotional horizons.
  6. Do not organize and program life rigidly.

(But don’t take my word for it… these thoughts come from Trappist monk Thomas Merton  <– click to look at a great book!) 

Tomorrow…  Holy Wednesday: Remind Me Who I Am

Holy Week

Rise up O Jerusalem!  Your King is coming!

Yesterday we celebrated Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  The Kingdom of God is at hand!

This coming week, we will also experience the circle of life that is Paschal Mystery… the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

It is a tumultuous cycle of events… going from the highest highs to the lowest lows and back to even higher highs.  This very sacred time of year deserves our prayerful attention and entry into the mystery that is before us.

Praying through Triduum on YouTube

And so we offer you a chance to do your own prayer retreat at home this week… out-of-the-ordinary!

Starting on Holy Wednesday, we will put up a step-by-step retreat outline for you to pray your way through Triduum and on through Easter.

Each day there will be a reflection and activities along with a special YouTube video for your prayer time.  You will need about 15 to 30 minutes so plan to carve out some quiet time in your day when you can be free of distractions.  Consider doing this first thing in the morning to set the tone for your day.

Let this be a time for change.

Lent is all about turning our lives and our hearts more toward God.  If we give time to prayer, God will reward us.  God always hears our prayers.  Let this be a time of transformation.

Come back on Wednesday for…  Holy Wednesday:  Remind Me Who I Am.

Rebuild the Temple Within

Early in his public ministry Saint Francis of Assisi heard an invitation from God to “Rebuild my Church.”

Many people in leadership in the Church at that time had become distracted from the essence of Jesus’ message and God was asking Francis to step into the role of  prophet.  Shake things up! Be a sign for the world, especially to my church.  Call my people away from their ‘false gods;’ call them back to me and rebuild the church as I would rebuild it, myself.

This might seem like a no-brainer! Yet, the message that Francis heard and lived was a radical one.  Many people labeled him crazy so that his message could be ignored and couldn’t demand change.  Francis became forgettable.  Forget the prophet – forget the one who sent the prophet.

Where and Whom Do I Worship?

These last lingering days of Lent are a great opportunity to pay attention to the false gods in my own life.  Sounds a little bizarre – I’ll agree, but we have them. 

What or whom do I find myself thinking about  a lot?  Am I preoccupied to the point where it is hard to focus on anything else?

Money.  Social status.  Career success.  Toys.  Technology.  Got to have it!  Got to have it now! Will wait in line for it – every time a new one comes out, even.

Why is this question worth asking?
Forget guilt – that is NOT the point.  Rather, the point is, to what have I surrendered my life?  What absorbs my attention the most?  THIS is where I have built my temple.  THIS is where I come to worship. 

So, what would it take to rebuild the temple within?  A good house-cleaning, most likely!  Even Jesus cleared out the Temple!   One of Saint Francis’ favorite virtues was simplicity.  The more simply we live, the less it takes to make us happy. 

The stuff we possess isn’t bad or wrong of itself, only to the extent that it takes first place in our lives and imagination.  Only to the extent that it begins to possess me and becomes the temple of my heart.                                    PEACE.

Routine vs Reflection

  Lent is not a ritual. It is time given to think seriously about who Jesus is for us, to renew our faith from the inside out.
– Joan Chittister

If it was a challenge this Lent to stay committed to your chosen sacrifice, often by this time – when we hit the “home stretch” of Lent – it might be easy to just give up…to simply stop trying.  “It’s just a little sacrifice anyway and no one knows what I offered up so no one can hold me accountable.”

Lent is a call to renew a commitment grown dull, perhaps, by a life more marked by routine than reflection. After a lifetime of boring regularity to the trappings of faith, Lent requires me, as a Christian, to stop a while, to reflect again on what is going on inside of me.

The Pulse of My Life

I am challenged again to decide whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ – and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer “hear the song of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me.”

As I ponder the cross of Jesus and the way he folds beneath its weight, I know that I am called to give up more than what I have decided to sacrifice for these 40 days. I am called to give up the mindless routine behavior of my life that stops me from seeing Jesus in every moment.  Reflecting on my faith instead of acting it out in routine ways…THAT is what makes Jesus’ journey to the cross life-giving.

Today – what is life-giving about the way Jesus operates in my life?  Is there one thing he has returned to life within me?

What WAS He Thinking?

 Would I Blurt Out What Peter Did?

Peter takes the words right out of our mouths – “But wait,   Lord!  If Jerusalem is where you will die…why are we  going there?!”

It just doesn’t make sense to Peter.  Why would Jesus walk toward death when he could run in the other direction?  After all, Jesus had so much more work to do with the early believers; so many hearts to touch.  We are often dulled to the reality of what Jesus experienced because we have heard and read the Gospel so many times before.

It is Written in the Bible, Isn’t It?

Of course Jesus tells Peter to get behind him and take his temptations with him…after all…it is written in the Bible, isn’t it?  We can’t imagine any other way for Jesus to behave.  Yet, Peter offered an option that was indeed tempting to Christ – or he wouldn’t have said, “Get behind me, Satan!”

Reading between the lines of Scripture gives us so much more to reflect on than what is simply in the black and white.

This coming week is a week that is filled with contradictions.  Jesus is thirsty yet, he is Living Water.  Jesus falls under the weight of the cross yet, he is almighty God.  Jesus saves Lazarus from death but does not do the same for himself.  Jesus allows himself to be stripped – of everything…dignity, humanity, even his garments – when all he ever clothes us with is love.

This Week Before Holy Week

If I sit with these contradictions this week, perhaps I can sit with Jesus next week.  Jesus walks toward danger and refuses to be dissuaded by Peter or the temptation of safety.  So many of our own decisions are made from the perspective of safety.

Is there anything that I might be able to walk toward this week that I have been holding at bay or refusing to admit?  Is there anything that scares me that I can tackle in the name of Love?

What safety can I offer Jesus today in the person of someone else?

40 Days

A Prayer for You

Here’s a great video to use for prayer today.  Consider making it into a short retreat for the beginning or ending of your day.

Take it step-by-step.

Take about 4 minutes to watch this powerful cartoon.

  1. Sit back in silence and let your heart be filled with God’s message for you in this moment.
  2. Pick up your journal or a plain piece of paper and write down 3 words that are in the front of your thoughts right now.
  3. Pick one of those words and write it in the center of your page.  Then draw a circle around it.
  4. What is the next word or thought that comes when you pray on that one?  Draw a circle / write the second word in it / then connect the two circles with a line.
  5. Continue with the next word / circle / connecting line… to create a chain of prayer words… that go on until your prayer feels complete.
  6. Now come back to your original circle in the center of your page.  Reflect for a few moments on how your first prayer created this chain of other prayers.  What is God revealing to you?



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