Peace be with you as we journey with Christ this Lent!
I pray that you have been graced throughout these beautiful days - days in which we strive to surrender more of our hearts and lives to Christ. I would like to share with you some of what God has been doing in my heart this Lent.
In her book, They Followed His Call, Adrienne von Speyr, states that, “There are many who hear God's call over and over again without taking it seriously. They have an exact idea of what God does in order to find workers for his vineyard. They can develop theories about the answers of those called and they know precisely what the minimum is that a person can offer God. They also know the maximum. But in all this they close their hearts, as if none of it concerned them personally, as if their role were only to be observers, or at best, witnesses. They amuse themselves speculating who could be meant, or how this or that one ought to have answered...but they themselves do not hear.” (pg 13)
My Lenten “theme” is best captured in the above quote. These past weeks have been weeks in which I am continuing to discover that I am the person who “does not hear”. This Lent I am learning what it means to open my heart, to listen and respond to the call of God; I am learning what it means to take on the disposition of Mary and utter my Fiat – my continual Yes to Christ.
The preparation for this Lent has been 6 years (since the time of my conversion), or I should say, my whole lifetime, in the making! God is a very patient Father! In any case, my life in the last few weeks has taken on a whole new depth of meaning. I was blessed to begin my Lent with 4 days spent at Our Lady of Guadalupe Convent, with a beautiful community of Sisters – The Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, in the Bronx, New York (www.franciscanfriars.com). This is a community that I have been interested in for the last 4 or 5 years and it was not until a month ago that I truly came to recognize and surrender to the fact that God was asking something of me – to go and visit them!
Since my conversion in 1999, I have definitely felt a still, small voice in my heart, asking me to consider the religious life, however, in my own limited human understanding I tried to rule out the idea that I would actually be called to such a life. Thus with this conclusion, I continued to visit the Sister's website, every time thinking about how incredible their surrender to the Lord was and all the while putting off the next step which was to ask the Lord if He was indeed calling me to make the same surrender. However, I must say, in hindsight I know that all my experiences leading up to this point were ordained by God, for my growth – for which I am truly grateful. Thus these Lenten days have been ones in which I have been looking back at my life, especially since the time of my conversion. In so doing, I have allowed the Spirit to reveal to me that indeed there has always been a little voice asking me to draw closer, to surrender more, and to open myself fully to the love with which God wants to love me. This Lent is a time of offering my heart to Christ, of humbling myself, despite my fears, anxiety and the unknown, so as to open myself to the grace which He desires to pour out upon me. He is teaching me that, “the call (of God) is not only an invitation, but at the same time a word of encouragement, of light, love, something that becomes fruitful in the person himself, something that comes to life in letting itself be perceived and that offers help and spurs the hearer on.”(von Speyer, pg 15) I praise God for the consolations that He continues to send my way, for He knows more than I do that this road of surrender is not easy – yet as He continues to show me, it is the only road worth taking! I know that I am still in the infancy stage of perceiving what it is that God is asking of my life, and I know from experience that I cannot jump to conclusions – nor do I want to; my desire is to be led. I rejoice that since visiting the Sister's in New York I have come to a new understanding of the mercy and tenderness of God – knowing that He will fulfill the deepest desires of my heart, which are rooted in surrendering myself fully to His love. I will keep you posted on where this journey leads and I pray that each of you is experiencing the love and mercy of Christ in a deeper and more intimate way this Lent.
I will leave with you with a beautiful prayer of a Saint who has been constantly at my side – St. Francis of Assisi: “May the power of your love, O Lord, fiery and sweet as honey, wean my heart from all that is under heaven, so that I may die for love of your love, you who were so good as to die for love of my love”
May God bless and keep you this Lent, as He prepares to fill you anew this Easter.