Today’s Reflection was written by Associate Mike Buckley.
“But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness! Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O Lord, our God…”
For over 1,000 years, this has been the Church’s Lenten prayer, an act of contrition describing God’s perfection and our imperfection. It is a prayer of sorrow and repentance for the ways in which we have failed to listen to God and his messengers. It is a prayer of humility, worship, confession and petition. (www.livingspace.sacredspace.ie).
The Church represents this visually by clothing the altar and her ministers in purple as a sign of that repentance. This communal call, however, is also a personal call. At the beginning of Mass, at the presider’s invitation to prepare to celebrate the sacred mysteries, we pray, “I confess to almighty God…” Even nature, it seems, calls our attention to introspection during these winter months. Trees are bare, flowers have faded. Some brothers/associates/collaborators look out on snowy ground; others watch the heavy rains fall; others meditate on barren fields. Yet, quietly and inevitably, change is taking place; there is a turning toward new life.
What does all this mean for us? Turning toward God means a change or a call to repentance. A quick “Google” of the word “repent” yielded 12,100,000 hits in .33 seconds. One would think the whole world is poised to repent and turn toward God. The word suggests deep sorrow, contrition, regret for past actions. A timely example of this change of heart can be seen in the film, “Les Miserables.” Early in the movie, the Bishop forgives Jean Valjean for stealing from him and asks him to “…use this precious silver to become an honest man.” In the following soliloquy, Valjean reflects:
“Yet why did I allow that man
To touch my soul and teach me to love?
He treated me like any other
He gave me his trust
He called me brother….
I feel my shame inside me like a knife.
He told me that I have a soul,
How does he know?
What spirit came to move my life?
Is there another way to go?”
Theodore James Ryken would have resonated with Valjean’s conversion experience, though he would describe it as, “…I was converted and fell in love with the service of God…”
Give yourself the opportunity to view the film, Les Miserables, or listen to the soundtrack or read the book by Victor Hugo. Then, reflect on your own journey towards God:
Who intervened at a crossroads in my life and helped me turn towards God?
Can I fast this Lent from judging others and feast on encouraging and supporting others?
Can I fast from anger and feast on patience?
Majestic and merciful God, we constantly put ourselves before You. As we continue this Lenten journey with whole and contrite hearts, give us the Grace to turn toward You, to see that we are your servants in this world. And, may we who follow the Xaverian Way, commit ourselves to renewing our family and being Your compassionate presence in the world today. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.