Friday of the First Week of Lent Reflection

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Today’s reflection was written by Brother Joe Pawlika, C.F.X.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
for years to come.

[Psalm 23:6]

 

In the depths of every human heart is the insatiable longing for home – for a “place” where we can simply be who we most deeply are, in communion with and compassion for everyone and everything that shares that home with us. Whether we have “moved around too much” or “stayed in the same place for too long,” the goodness and mercy of God, in one way or another are always drawing us homeward. For Ryken, it was “a deep humiliation” that put him in his place, the place where he could experience his home as the house of the Lord. For many of us, it is our own desire to forcefully construct a home according to our own blueprints that interferes with our ability to recognize the place where we dwell as the house of the Lord. A house-owner can be so preoccupied with the fitness and value of his house that he may not attend to its rich potential. A house-guest is much more likely to abide in the home of his host with a spirit of appreciation, gratitude, mystery, communion and rest. T. S. Eliot puts it well:

 

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time…
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well.

 

What cost would I be willing to pay to see “my house” transformed into “the house of the Lord?”

How would I answer if Jesus were to ask me “Where do you dwell?” (John 1:37)

 

Recommended Exercise

Slowly and reflectively read through the following poem:

 

The House at Rest

By Jessica Powers

On a dark night
Kindled in love with yearnings
Oh, happy chance!
I went forth unobserved,
My house being now at rest.

-Saint John of the Cross

How does one hush one’s house,
each proud possessive wall, each sighing rafter,
the rooms made restless with remembered laughter
or wounding echoes, the permissive doors,
the stairs that vacillate from up to down,
windows that bring in color and event from countryside or town,
oppressive ceilings and complaining floors?
The house must first of all accept the night.
Let it erase the walls and their display,
impoverish the rooms till they are filled
with humble silences; let clocks be stilled
and all the selfish urgencies of day.
Midnight is not the time to greet a guest,
Caution the doors against both foes and friends,
and try to make the windows understand
their unimportance when the daylight ends.
Persuade the stairs to patience, and deny
the passages their aimless to and fro.
Virtue it is that puts a house at rest.
How well repaid that tenant is, how blest
who, when the call is heard,
is free to take his kindled heart and go.

Take some time to slowly, patiently and respectfully explore the house of your own life. Stay in each room for a while, listening for the ways in which “the goodness and mercy of God” may be calling you to let this room be transformed by awareness into the house of the Lord.  What do you experience in each room?  Are there rooms in which you are anxious, frightened, agitated and restless?  Where are you overworked, busy and tired?  Are there rooms in which you are needy and hungry?  Where do you find yourself distracted and preoccupied?  Are there some rooms that are too noisy and others that are too quiet?  In some rooms are you too much alone and others in which you are overwhelmed by others? Are some rooms too full and others too empty?  Are there rooms in which you find peace and rest?  You might try to imagine how differently Martha and Mary experienced their home with Jesus as their guest?

[This reflection is based on a retreat reflection on The House at Rest  found at: www.intervarsity.org/mx/item/3836/download.]

 

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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