Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Seasons Turn

The Holy Face Not Made by Human Hands
egg tempera and gold leaf on gesso

The Liturgical Year brings us into the season for dwelling upon the infinite mercy of God. Yes, that's the infinite mercy of God. And yes, we commonly think of the Lenten season as a penitential time; a time for reparation and sorrow for sin. But as was heard in the reading from the book of Joel at Mass today, what God calls us to is not a rending of garments but rather a rending of hearts - a tearing open of the heart so that it can be moved to pity, to prayer, to alms giving, and to defending the cause of justice. But Jesus warns, "When you give alms do not let your right hand know what you left hand is doing...and when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and prayer to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

Ash Wednesday is a celebration of the mercy of God who never ceases to draw us closer and while seing into the secret recesses of our hearts and is moved to forgive. The rending of hearts, withdrawing to the inner room and being seen in secret speak of the very interior nature of the spiritual process in which we try to engage during Lent. It is a process most likely to be carried out in silence and solitude, a more contemplative way of being. Why not try to carve out some for yourself and bring Jesus into that secret space with you and see what happens in these forty days or so?

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