Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ash Wednesday and Lent

Here is a wonderful meditation for Ash Wednesday from Magnificat, which offers daily spiritual reading, Mass texts and other spiritual resources for every day of the year. It is from the Venerable Louis of Granada OP.
'It is necessary to mention here a great deception that often befalls those who begin to serve God. Sometimes they read in spiritual
books how great are the consolations of the holy Spirit and how sweet charity is and they think that the whole path to perfection is filled with delights and that there is no effort or fatigue involved. As a result, they prepare themselves for it as for something easy and pleasant and do not arm themselves for entering battle. They do not realise that while the love of God is in itself very sweet and delectable, the way to perfect charity is arduous, because to attain it, one must completely conquer self-love, and this involves a constant struggle against self. Thus, Isaiah says: “Shake yourself from the dust; arise, sit up, O Jerusalem.” In other words, the soul must shake off the dust of worldly affections and attachments and arise from its sins before it can enjoy the pleasure of seating itself in charity. However, God bestows marvellous consolations on those who faithfully struggle and on all those who trade the delights of earth for the joys of heaven. But if this barter is not made and a man does not want to surrender his spoils, this celestial refreshment will not be given to him. For we know that the heavenly manna was not given to the children of Israel until they had finished the grain that they had brought with them out of Egypt...'  
And earlier, in a meditation on 16 February, Caryll Houselander spoke of the fact that "suffering, if we are one with Christ and so offer it in his hands to God, is the most effective of all acts of love." Christ "did not bring suffering into the world, but because we had done so and it was there, he came to wed himself to it, to make it inseparable from his redeeming love, one thing with love itself... In it the world’s healing begins. It is this power of his own love that Christ has given to us. Because of it our personal share in the world’s suffering is never useless, always potent. it is the most effective gift we have for the good of our fellow men."
'In Christ all humanity is contained. If we live in him we can lift up all the world’s suffering in our own, and we can bear this mystery without staggering because of the miraculous economy of pity, through which in each man’s suffering all suffering can be turned to love, but no one man can suffer more than his one heart’s measure of grief.'

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