Ashes to ashes….

The cross of ashes, traced upon the forehead of each Christian, is not only a reminder of death but inevitably (though tacitly) a pledge of resurrection. The ashes of a Christian are no longer mere ashes. The body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and though it is fated to see death, it will return again to life in glory. The cross, with which the ashes are traced upon us, is the sign of Christ’s victory over death. The words, “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and that to dust thou shalt return,” are not to be taken as the quasi-form of a kind of “sacrament of death” (as if such a thing were possible). It might be good stoicism to receive a mere reminder of our condemnation to die, but it is not Christianity. The declaration that the body must fall temporarily into dust is a challenge to spiritual combat, that our burial may be “in Christ” and that we may rise with him to “live unto God.”

Thomas Merton, Ash Wednesday, Spiritual Medicine

Good Friday, April 3, 2015

Tradition explains that Jesus hung dying between the hours of 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm.  For three hours He hung between “two robbers… one on the right and one on the left.” (Matt 27:38)

Tradition also explains that one is identified as a “good thief” and the other as a “bad thief.”  This seems appropriate as Jesus is always in-between what is good and what is bad.

The Gospels record part of the conversation between the good thief and Jesus.  The thief confesses, “I am a sinful man. My fate is my own doing.  In Your charity… will You remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”  (Lk 23:42)

Those words were sweet music to the ears and heart of our Lord.  They were words coming from the thief of confession and contrition and seeking peace and a new way.  Just when it seemed like that the “Sanhedrin Plot” was going to work out and Jesus would finally be pushed into obscurity… “out of sight, out of mind”… the mystery of the Holy Spirit moves the heart of a dying man to confess his sinful ways and seek a life with Jesus.  The “hidden fruit” of the Cross is already blossoming.

Who knows how many people passed by the Cross screaming their insults and ridicule and taunting Jesus to show what power He had and “come down from the Cross.” (Matt 27:40)

Jesus was deeply moved by the petition of the thief. His heart was filled with joy. “I assure you, Jesus replies, that this day you will be with Me in Paradise.”  (Lk 23:43)

The fruit of the Cross is limitless because it is always at work. It’s power and authority has filled the world with God’s peace, and with His grace and loving forgiveness.  It has restored peace to the guilty, and given everlasting happiness to souls who seek God’s Kingdom. Today the Cross reminds billions that everlasting salvation is available today, any time, any place, anywhere.

The redemption which Christ carried out on “the hill of the skull” is now applied to those who open their heart and will to receive Jesus and His way. The Son of God loves, thats all He can do.  And He died for you in the hopes you would come to love His sacrifice.

A precious way we access the eternal Cross and its fruits are in the Mass Jesus established in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday night.  By receiving Holy Communion we are able to stay on the path He has made for us that moves us from death to life… from struggles and sins to new beginnings and healing.

Maundy Thursday, April 2, 2015

Today is Holy Thursday or in our Anglican tradition we say “Maundy Thursday.” The word “Maundy” is from the Latin “mandatum,” or “mandate.”  “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos.”  Translated this reads, “A new commandment I give unto you, That you love one another; as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34)  On this holy night Jesus gave to His Church His “new commandment” and that is “to love.

On this night Jesus did so many things that were done to become the pattern for His Church to live and minister by.

  • Jesus washes the feet of His apostles as a sign of His love for them and their successors, and as marking “the way of the Church.” He commands, “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”  (Jn 13:15)
  • Jesus celebrates the first Mass.  (Matt 26:20, 26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:14-20; Jn 13:1-38; and 1 Cor 11:17-34.
  • During the first Mass He institutes the ordained priesthood.  When Jesus spoke, “Do this for remembrance of Me” (Lk 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24) these words after the consecration of the bread and wine, ordained the apostles priests for offering the sacrifice that is the Mass. This priesthood of Christ is still with the Anglican Church today as men are ordained to the three-fold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons.  Later on, after His resurrection, Jesus would expand the spiritual powers of the priesthood by bestowing on the apostles His authority to absolve sins.  This gift of authority came when Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sin you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”  (Jn 20:22-23)  Just as when God breathed over creation in the beginning to make life within man so the breath of Christ breathed upon the apostles created the sacrament of reconciliation which a priest uses to create and make a new heart within the person who is contrite and seeks God’s love and help.
  • Jesus calls His commandment to love a “new commandment.” St. John reminds us that this commandment is “new” and it is also “not new; [but an] old command, that we have had from the very beginning…. However the command is new because its truth is seen now fulfilled in Christ and also in you. For the darkness is passing away, and the real light is already shining.”  (1 Jn 2:7-8) This is the love that Jesus calls His Church to “abide in.” (Jn 15:9)
  • After this first Mass was completed Jesus prayed for the unity of His Church in the Garden of Gethsemane.

These events and many more mark the beginning of the “paschal triduum.” These next three days form the summit of our liturgical year. Though they are detailing the last three days in our Lord’s earthly life, liturgically they “unfold” as “one great day” showing us the unity of Christ’s paschal mystery.  This unfolding is seen through worship at the Mass of the Lord’s “Last Supper”, Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, and the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord!

Love unites us to Christ and it is to unite us to those people around us where we spend the greater part of our lives.  How well do they see you as a disciple of Christ?  God’s love poured out through our life should not be reserved for important matters or persons, but it should be found even among the smallest of details of our daily life.

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 1, 2015

Today is Wednesday in Holy Week.  At sundown tonight the season of Lent officially ends and the sacred triduum begins.  The triduum are the last three days of our Lord’s earthly life celebrated as Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day!

Our Gospel reading for this day is John 13:21-30.  It is Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.  Let us read it, “Jesus… was troubled in spirit, and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom He spoke. One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to Jesus; so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Tell us who it is of whom He speaks.” So the disciple moved even closer to Jesus and said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give this bread when I have dipped it.” So when He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after Judas received the bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why He said this to Judas…. So, after receiving the bread, he immediately went out; and it was night. (Jn 13:21-30)

What on earth happened with Judas? He knew Jesus well.  He witnessed many miracles, many healing, and he knew the poverty of most of the people who came looking for Jesus and he also knew the genuine love Jesus had for every one.  Judas was so trusted that he had been chosen and called to be an apostle by Jesus Himself.  What happened to him that he would now betray his friend for thirty pieces of silver?

Looking at how Judas ignored his heart may be a clue as to what happened to make him change. Judas was acting like a person whose once intense love has now grow cold?  Maybe his confidence and enthusiasm for “the way of Jesus” had grown to be merely external and stale.  Judas lost his way.  Love when it has grown cold becomes stale.  But Jesus knew that even cold hearts can be warmed up and made new!

Pay attention to how Jesus identifies His “betrayer.”  It was by dipping a piece of His own bread into some oil and giving it to Judas.  Seems simple.  This was common to do in that day. Often the host would begin the meal by doing just this.  Selecting one person and share his bread to show special appreciation to a friend, neighbor or family member.  It’s like making that person a guest of honor.  Jesus uses this gesture to begin the “Last Supper.” He tells Judas to “go and do what you must” (Jn 13:27) but know “as you leave… you leave as a guest of honor!”  How much did Jesus love Judas.  In Eucharistic Prayer D we recall the “Last Supper.”  We pray, “When the hour had come for Him to be glorified by You, His heavenly Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end… (BCP 374)

It’s important to keep this in perspective.  Because we too can struggle with our love growing cold. Things we are deeply committed to can become mere external living. We can loose our passion.  Pushing through those “cold times” and persevering is the work of grace helping us in even small everyday things with faith; but “pushing through” must be supported by the humility desiring a beginning again when we go astray through weakness.

Judas found that his love for Jesus was still there. He figured this out.  He also realized that he allowed himself to be used by the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus. For Judas his shame was so deep there was no going back.  Yet, Jesus loved him, and took that love for Judas with Him to the Cross.  He loved Judas to the end.

Jesus loves you. Can you love Him with an everlasting love?  Try by opening your heart to grace, and humble yourself before Him and pray for beginning again.  Be not afraid, God desires to bless you!

 

Tuesday in Holy Week, March 31, 2015

Today is Tuesday in Holy Week.  Our Gospel lesson is drawn from Mark 11:15-19, the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple.

What is going on in this story must be carefully understood. So let’s read through it first, “And they came to Jerusalem. And Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; and He would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple. And He taught, and said to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a House of Prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the multitude was astonished at His teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.” (Mar 11:15-19)

There are two important hermeneutical keys that we need to use that will help us find a correct understanding of this passage.

The first “key” is the theological and political syncretism of the Temple leadership. Jesus was not denigrating the Temple nor is He chastising the people who come there to worship. In Matthew’s reading (Matt 21:12-16) we see how “the blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant; and they said to Him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise’?” (Mat 21:12-16)  God was in the Temple!

No, what Jesus was doing is attacking the political and religious syncretism that was the accepted “Temple philosophy” of the day.  He was speaking to the Temple leadership and to their syncretistic ways that sadly they were passing on to the faithful as “the faith.” Their syncretistic godless philosophy is the “den” that Jesus refers too.  The “robbers” are the leadership and teachers who know better but have chosen to steal the people’s hearts away from the faith.

A second “key” is the Temple itself.  That amazing wonder of the world was built to be a bridge between the temporal and eternal, earthly and heavenly realities. Walking into it one should feel like they are in Heaven on earth. The earthly Temple was always intended to point beyond itself to God who is always reaching out to man. What often prevents God from getting through is the sin of pride. Sin has soiled man’s soul with a stain that only Jesus can remove.  Jesus can restore our soul to a “glistening, intensely white, as no bleach on earth could do” (Mk 9:3 and Rev 7:14-14)  by His bloody sacrifice on the Cross. We who are baptized into His blood are delivered from “the gloom of sin, and restored to grace and holiness of life.”  (BCP 287)

In baptism the soul is made perfect by grace. Our life now is the story of God’s continual watchfulness over us. Each one of us is the object of the Lord’s special love. Jesus was ready to do everything for Jerusalem, but the city was not willing to open up her gates to His mercy. This is the deep mystery of human freedom which always retains that sad possibility of rejecting the grace of God.

The cleansing Jesus accomplished on the Cross continues in every age through the Church. We see its beginnings today in Jerusalem. It is God’s plan to use the Church to spread this cleansing influence and power (see Acts 19:20), and to become the imperishable seed by which every heart is born anew (see 1 Peter 1:23).

If you have been away from the Church for any amount of time, come home this Easter!  If you have not been baptized and want to learn more about the Christian faith give us a call at St. John’s.  We are here to help.

Monday of Holy Week, Mar. 30, 2015

On Monday of Holy Week we read about the anointing of Jesus while He was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper.  This narrative is found in Mark 14:3-9 or in John 12:1-11.

While Jesus sat at table eating a woman, identified in John’s Gospel as Mary (not the Mother of our Lord) “came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head.” (Mar 14:3) The oil Mary used was an expensive aromatic essential oil.  To achieve the level of purity noted in the reading it would have taken a great deal of time distilling the oil from flowering plants. But Mary “broke the jar open” and literally drenched Jesus with this fragrant oil. Then she knelt down and anointed and rubbed the oil into His feet with her hair.

The people in the room saw this and were very upset with what seemed to them as wasting expensive oil. Jesus replied to them saying, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has … anointed my body beforehand for burying.” (Mar 14:6-8)

Jesus’ strongly defends Mary’s actions. Then He called attention to the growing aroma of this oil that was filling the house.  He linked the fragrance of the oil to the ‘sweet fragrance’ of His costly sacrifice that He will begin in the Upper Room and consummate at 3:00 pm on Good Friday.  In His offering of Himself on the Cross our Lord takes us by the hand and leads us through the sacred triduum to atone and heal our soul with His sacred flesh and blood in order to become the “aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Cor 2:15-16).

Mary gave her very best. Jesus gave His very best. Both are acts of pure love and both involved a “labor” intensive process. Mary and Jesus call us to give in the same way. But for us to get to where we are freely giving involves for many intensive spiritual labor on our part. To love without strings attached is not easy to do. To love in spite of pain is hard.  But when we are able to act from a heart purified by the Holy Spirit, a heart that has been graced with the Easter love of God, we find ourselves becoming the ointment and “light” that Isaiah spoke about.  We are God’s servants to the nations.

A Biblical Journey

Holy Week begins with our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (March 29th) and concludes when His lifeless body is laid to rest in a tomb and a large stone is rolled across the entrance. (April 4th)

Each day Jesus is lining up the details to fulfill His words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).  Holy Week at St. John’s is a biblical journey. We hear an abundance of God’s Word and our historic liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer allow each of us to participate in the Word.

In Holy Week we will read the following 19 readings this year.  In addition are the supporting readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, and the New Testament letters.  Simply amazing!

  • Triumphal entry into Jerusalem……..Mark 11:1-11.
  • Jesus is anointed at Bethany……..Mark 14:3-9.
  • Jesus cleanses the Temple……..Mark 11:15-19
  • Conspiracy against Jesus……..Mark 14:1-2.
  • Betrayal of Jesus by Judas……..Mark 14:10-46.
  • Foot-washing……..John 13:3-17.
  • The Lord’s Supper……..Mark 14:22-25
  • Peter’s denial of Jesus……..Mark 14:26-72.
  • Jesus in Gethsemane……..Mark 14:32-42.
  • Jesus is arrested……..Mark 14:43-52.
  • Jesus before Caiaphas……..Mark 14:53-65.
  • Jesus before Pilate……..Mark 15:1-5.
  • Jesus before Herod……..Luke 23:6-12.
  • Jesus sentenced to die……..Mark 15:6-15.
  • Jesus mocked……..Mark 15:16-20.
  • The road to Golgotha……..Mark 15:21.
  • Jesus’ crucifixion and death……..Mark 15:22-41.
  • Jesus’ burial……..Mark 15:42-47.
  • The guard at the tomb……..Matthew 27:62-66.

Angelika_Kauffmann_-_Christus_und_die_Samariterin_am_Brunnen_-1796Christians are formed in and by the biblical story. The biblical language of Holy Week is the language of divine love that is engaging the human heart and will.  The Book of Common Prayer offers Christians the true worship that Jesus told the samaritan woman at the well about. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.” (John 4:23)

As you enter into Holy Week consider offering the following prayer to ask the Holy Spirit to led you into the biblical narratives and discover a fruitful Holy Week.  “Assist us mercifully with Your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby You have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen.  (BCP 270)

Palm Sunday, March 29, 2015

IMG_5064The service of Palm Sunday at St. John’s is March 29th at 8:00, 9:00 and 11:15 am.  This ancient liturgy is found in the Book of Common Prayer beginning on page 270.

It is called “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.” This title explains well what the day is about. Using this liturgy we progress from joy and triumph of discovering Jesus as the Messiah to His suffering and death!  We begin with the “Liturgy of the Palms” and the service concludes with the “Liturgy of the Passion.”

The service opens with the “messianic entrance” of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Messiah has arrived!  People wave palm branches and run to meet Jesus, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)  But this excitement and hope of the crowd moves us to a penitential Eucharist that is dominated by the solemn proclamation of the Passion Gospel of St. Mark 14:32-15:47.

In place of a spoken sermon, today we provide silence.  Silence to meditate on the details of Mark’s Passion narrative.  These details are divinely provided to explain that any and all sins are sins committed against God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

Today by means of this sacred liturgy we begin our most solemn walk.  Today we stand in procession with our palms, and with the “fullness of faith” we proclaim Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, praising from our heart the Son of David!  Today we walk in procession as one who has been given a special grace, that certain advantage the first crowd didn’t have. We know the “why” to Jesus’ passion; and we know the eternal significance His triumph stands for. We know and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and the glory of the Father (Phil 2:11).  Jesus is the Son of David… He is the Son of God.

Today we grow deeper in our understanding of why Simeon said of Jesus that He was born as “a sign of contradiction,” a “sign” that is understood by those who truly seek God, but He is a sign that will be despised by most. Today we kneel in silence and in communion with our God knowing that Jesus sweated blood through His prayers and His passion to break the bonds of death and hell. His resurrection is His “sign” of His victory over death and the grave. Divine Love redeemed us.  This love continues to redeem our every day assisting us to put to flight the wickedness of sin and cleave to a life controlled by the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:16ff)

Jesus has restored original innocence to the fallen (Matthew 9:16-17) and He gives interior joy to all who mourn. (Matthew 5:4)  He casts out pride and bitterness from us so we can have room to receive the peace and concord of Heaven upon earth!  (Matthew 9:1-8)

How blessed we are to be baptized into this holy mystery.  Today as we kneel at the Altar rail and receive Holy Communion the beloved Son of God has again joined our soul to Heaven and we receive redeeming love. (BCP 287)

 

Holy Week: The Most Solemn Week of the Year!

baptism of catechumenThis year, March 29, 2015 begins the most solemn week of the year. We walk liturgically the last week of our Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly life.  We call this journey “Holy Week.”  We walk “liturgically” meaning sacramentally we are actually present to the suffering, dying and rising of Jesus Christ.  We participate in His “Paschal mystery.”  This divine mystery is the theological core of the Christian faith and the soul of the Church’s liturgical life.

The word “paschal” comes from “pascha” which itself means “the passing over.”  The Pascha is an early description for the Easter celebration of baptism and the holy Eucharist.  Lent developed as a season of preparation for baptism and first communion on Easter. St. Paul spoke to the newly baptized on Pascha, “We were buried with Christ through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

The first service of Easter begins at 8:00 pm on Holy Saturday night (April 4, 2015) and is called “The Great Vigil of Easter.”  At this first Mass of Easter you will hear lots of scripture readings from the Old Testament and New Testaments. The great stories such as the Fall of man, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the prophecy of the Dry Bones, and God making in man a new heart, our baptism into the Christ’s dying and rising and the Empty Tomb. These readings are some of the most ancient Christian “paradigms” for sacramental baptism. The joy that illuminates this evening service is celebrated using the contrast of candlelight and darkness. The glorious announcement “Alleluia, Christ is Risen” originally was spoken by those who had just been baptized into Christ and become a new creation.

The early Christians understood how the act of baptizing was the very act of “passage” in which the Church fulfills herself as God’s new creation.  Using liturgy the Church transcends earthly dimensions of an institution and she becomes the living Body of Christ as she receives the Body and Blood of Christ.  At this moment in earthly time the Church is the manifestation and presence of the “new aeon” of the Kingdom of God.

The first known use of the term “Paschal mystery” as it applies to our Lord’s suffering, dying, and resurrection is found in a homily written by Melito, who was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna.  The homily was written between 160 and 170 A.D.  A contemporary of Melito was Irenaeus, bishop of Antioch (130-202 A.D).  He was taught how the celebration of “Holy Week” (what he called “Great Week”) went back to the time of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. (d. 155 A.D)  

The origin of this solemn week lies buried in apostolic times. By the 4th century during the episcopate of the great bishop St. Cyril of Jerusalem it was an annual event.  Many of the earliest churches were being built on the sacred sites in the Holy Land by Constantine, and with the growing influx of pilgrims to Jerusalem for Easter Day the Church developed liturgies celebrated on the original sites and at the times indicated in the gospels.  The liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer for Holy Week are structured from these ancient services.

Holy Week brings to fruition the baptismal themes that has structured the season of Lent.  An example of this is how on the 5th Sunday in Lent (March 22, 2015) the Gospel addressed the role of baptism using the words of Jesus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  (John 12:24)

Lent has prepared us to listen attentively to the Passion Gospels and Old and New Testament stories that narrate our salvation. We find on Maundy Thursday the origin and purpose of the Mass.  We discover on Good Friday how all graces flow from the sacrifice of Christ and how on this “Good and perfect day” our Lord’s suffering body made a new humanity that in baptism made us the Father’s “new creation.”  (Eph 2:14-22 and 2Cor 5:16-21)

At the Great Vigil of Easter the 40 days of Lent “fold into” the renewal of our baptismal vows where we once again renounce Satan and all his evil and we promise ourselves again to Christ and to the ministry of His Church. “Through the Paschal Mystery, dear friends, we are buried with Christ by Baptism into His death, and raised with Him to newness of life. I call upon you, therefore, now that our Lenten observance is ended, to renew the solemn promises and vows of Holy Baptism, by which we once renounced Satan and all his works, and promised to serve God faithfully in His holy Catholic Church.”  (BCP 292)

On Easter Day we pray, “Almighty God, who through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”  (BCP 222)

Join us for our services during Holy Week and complete your journey of Lent to Easter Morning.

  • March 29th – Palm Sunday, Sunday 8:00, 9:00 and 11:15 am.
  • April 1st – Wednesday in Holy Week, Mass at 7:00 am and 11:00 am in the Lady Chapel.
  • April 2nd – Maundy Thursday, Mass with choir, Foot Washing, Stripping of the Altar, and beginning of the Great Watch.  The Church remains open from the end of Mass around 8:00 pm until 12 midnight for prayer.
  • April 3rd – Good Friday Liturgy at 12:00 pm noon and with the choir at 7:00 pm.
  • April 4th – The Great Vigil of Easter with choir at 8:00 pm.  Includes the Service of Lights, the Blessing of the Easter Fire, procession with the Paschal Candle and chanting of the Exulted, and the service of Lessons recounting the history of salvation.
  • April 5th – Easter Day, 8:00, 9:00 and 11:15 am.  9:00 am is the Flowering of the Cross and Children’s sermon; 10:30 am Easter Egg Hunt with children.

Spiritual Consolation…

According to Ignatius of Loyola (born in 1491) the good spiritual feelings that are stirred up within us he calls spiritual “consolation” and the negative and dark spiritual feelings he calls spiritual “desolation.”

Spiritual consolation is an experience of being connected to God and His love and mercy. We want to serve Him, love Him, and grow to know Him more and more. This encourages in us a deep sense of God’s faithfulness towards us, and that He is our companion through the “thick and thin” of life. The contrast of spiritual consolation is what Ignatius calls spiritual desolation. This is when we cave in to the darkness and commotion around us. Our thinking and decisions are fueled by doubts, temptations, and many self-preoccupations. We are restless and become alienated from others. The end product of spiritual desolation is that we are always taking one step backwards, living without faith, hope, or love.

We all fall victim of spiritual desolation just as we have moments of spiritual consolation. For St. Ignatius much of the spiritual life is largely about “interpreting” the “whys” and “whens” these contrasting movements of “desolation” and “consolation” come to us and where it all might they be leading us?

Keep in mind, spiritual consolation is not always moments of happiness. Jesus tells us, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Sometimes when we are at our lowest it can be a moment of real truth and conversion giving way to a deeper trust with God. Human suffering when surrendered to the Holy Spirit becomes powerful redemptive medicine for us.

The season of Lent encourages us to try to understand the “whys” and “whens” that consolation and desolation enter our soul and thinking. This can help us move to a deeper conversion with God and maybe help us face changes we need to make.