Photos, sometimes with Commentary, from a lay Catholic.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Rend Your Hearts, Not Your Garments, and Return to Me
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent today, Feb 17, 2010.
This is a flower pic, taken a couple years ago, which I've converted to this black and white image. Just as I have stripped away the color from this image, during this season of Lent, we now strip away ourselves to find more of the genuine, and less of the facades. We quiet those external noises that drown out the voice of our Creator. We gladly make sacrifices because we find our truer selves in so doing. And we turn our hearts toward God and others. This is the way we were meant to be. This is how we were designed.
We are not perfect, but there is beauty in our imperfection. We are not whole, but He can make up what is lacking.
Like the tulip above, we are open, and ready.
"Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening."
As I woke today, I thought of St. Paul. He had many reasons to feel secure in his relationship with God. Born a Jew, circumcised on the eighth day, years of zealous (overzealous?) service within his tradition... But his worldly standing did not grant him access to the One he desired. All that effort to be good and holy... fell short. Paul tells us that knowing Jesus was worth more than all of his public position and standing. Paul's relationship with Jesus was the thing he valued most. St. Paul is a credible witness. Knowing all that he knows, he tells the Philippians (3:8-10), "I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ...being found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible, I may attain the resurrection form the dead."
We fast during Lent because it gives us great joy to be joined with Jesus in his own selflessness. While it may cause us temporary pain or difficulty, our eyes are looking toward the prize, the goal. That is, we are looking toward Jesus, himself. Our faith sustains us when He seems quiet. This is why, as Catholics, we are pleased to embrace small (or great) sufferings for we know that they are good teachers. We are not afraid of hardship. Our sacrifices teach us to be patient, and to wait in faith.
One more thing about St. Paul is that he leaves the outcome of his soul with Jesus. "...that if possible, I may attain the resurrection from the dead." He doesn't boast that it is his. If he boasts at all, he boasts only in his trust, in his relationship, in his faith in Jesus.
So many times it is difficult to trust. When He seems quiet, or we feel distant. That is when we must call on the virtue of patience, and rely on His timing. God is not a genie to be called forth from some shiny lamp. He is God. We must be his patient servants.
God bless any of you who stop to read these words. Those of you who observe Lent and those of you who do not. We are all His creatures.
I'm a wife, a mother of grown children, and work full time as a nurse practitioner with cancer patients. My work is gratifying often, and difficult and sad sometimes, too.
I'm average and extraordinary, just as you are. I've experienced profound failures, significant disappointments, had a few successes, and been the recipient of a lot of mercy. I try to keep perspective on what's important in life, and not get too upset about the rest.
My Catholic faith is important to me, and while I'm no theologian, it's my intention that my faith inform my outlook and values, and inspire personal virtue. I love that God desires to reveal himself to us. I love the small hints, the little bread crumbs, the multiple clues, and the pieces of the puzzle that dot the created world and point to the hand of the Creator. I love that He uses beauty, art, science, all his creatures and the invisible realm of our heart and emotions to communicate His goodness to us. And I love that the fullness of his love can be seen in the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, which makes me free.