Ash Wednesday Reflection

Click here to read the Theme One introduction: Returning to Our True Place

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Even now, says the LORD,

return to me with your whole heart…

[Joel 2:12]

 

The encounter with silence, with our deepest self, and with God can reveal to us our own weakness and our own creatureliness, but also, simultaneously, the Mercy and Love of God. The Lenten invitation to return to God with our whole heart is an opportunity for us, as a Xaverian family, to participate in a process of returning to our true place. We are made in the image and likeness of God, so we experience a freedom to pursue God’s love and mercy (or not). One free choice we have is prayer.

Theodore Ryken, in describing his own conversion experience–one that brought him to a sense of his true place–found in his turning toward God an experience of the ineffable and unconditional love of God, despite also feeling humbled. He wrote in the Report: “[God’s] love usually works steadily and gently, and at the same time strongly and in a hidden way.” Can we, in this Lenten season, commit ourselves to enter this spiritual journey with a whole heart? To respond to the moment by moment invitation to Divine Mercy and Love? Until our ultimate return (Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return) we will struggle to respond; this is our creatureliness. But as we do, slowly-by-slowly our restless hearts will find wholeness, our true place.

 

Recommended Exercise

Allow 10-15 minutes for the following.

Take a few moments to listen to your own breathing. As silence comes to you, ask God to meet you within your interior dwelling. Simply remain present here.

Allow thoughts to enter your mind and leave. Do not attempt to grasp onto to them. Your focus is the underlying quiescence. Just be in it.

Is there a natural inclination to resist this silence? Do you wonder whether or not it is “working”? Does this feel like a “waste” of precious time?

Allow these thoughts to pass. If need be, remain focused on your breath.

Over time, you may come to experience a sense of peace. Ordinary. Unspectacular. Merciful. Loving.

Return again and again. With a whole heart.

 

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we are always returning, always in a movement toward our true home. We know that “our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” As we begin the discipline of the season of Lent, give us the grace to begin our journey back to our true home. May we travel this journey wholeheartedly, not simply ‘rending our garments’ superficially, but truly placing ourselves in the hands of your Divine Mercy and experiencing your ineffable and unconditional love. May we who follow the Xaverian Way, commit ourselves to renewing our family and being your compassionate presence in our world today. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son and our brother. Amen.

 

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One Comment

  1. Unconditional love – what a powerful image of His love! Our high school religion text speaks to and expresses this same thought that truly says all that is needed to be said about Jesus’ relationship to us.

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