Five Ways to Empty for Fullness in Christ    

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Lent is a time to encounter Jesus anew.

Lent is a time to encounter Jesus anew.

“In a flash, at a trumpet crash, I am all at once what Christ is, since he is what I am, and this Jack, joke, poor potsherd patch, matchwood, immortal diamond is immortal diamond.” – Gerard Manley Hopkins

The word “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, referring to the lengthening of days in the spring. In Lent our own spring cleaning and growth happens through our personal encounter with Christ, says liturgical leader Sr. Margaret Mary Tapang, Sister Disciple of the Divine Master. She uses the word mystica to explain the profound, dynamic spiritual experience that leads to conversion or metanoia enabling us to soak in the values of the Gospel in order to spring to “life in Christ and in the Spirit” (Rm. 8:2).

True conversion and a dynamic spirituality are prepared and nurtured by a Spirit-filled life centered on Jesus Christ, the Eucharistic Master, Priest and Leitourgos (liturgy). Prayer, reading of Sacred Scripture, and celebration of the Sacraments enable us to reach the goal of christification: “It is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). “God wants to rest in us, he wants to renew nature also through our conversion, he wants to make us participants in his divinity,” says Benedict XVI.

The rhythm of our daily life has become so frenetic that we may wonder if we even have “time” for conversion. Not to worry. God has time for us. God gives us his time by entering history with his word and his works of salvation, opening it to eternity and making time a history of covenant. Lenten liturgical time deepens our experience of mistica for an ongoing metanoia. Our Lenten sacrifice is to draw near to the One who loves us so much.

In Hebrew, the verb to sacrifice means, literally, “to draw near.” Drawing nearer to God allows good to occupy the space in our hearts that have been liberated from evil.  We are capable of receiving this gift because of Christ’s willingness to empty himself (Phil. 2:6) and assume our nature. As he became one of us, we can share in the divine nature to the degree that with God’s help we can empty ourselves (Fr. John Garvey).

1. Prayer and the Sanctification of Time:

One way to sanctify time, reclaiming a Christian sense of time, is by rediscovering the Liturgy of the Hours.

“The pace of modem life is a tremendous force that impacts on basic understandings of self, family, work, faith, and religious practice,” writes Reverend Stephen J. Lopes, “there is a growing divorce between the life of faith and life in the world. We need to be reminded to do what ought to come naturally, that is, to ‘take time’ for self, for God, and for family and friends.”

The Liturgy of the Hours and its attention to the consecration of time is one way to restore a sense of balance to daily life. Would you consider beginning this practice in your home or parish? What prayer practice do you choose for Lent?

God is present and active in his word.

God is present and active in his word.

2. Prayerful Reading of the Scriptures:

The word of God is the creative power which transforms us into Christ. St Athanasius tells us, “The Word became man so that man might become God.”

Is the word of God truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with God’s word to the point that it leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking? Or is our thinking is constantly being shaped by all the things that others say and do?” (Cf. Benedict XVI).

Here are two ways to deepen your love for God’s letter to us:

  1. Sr. Margaret Mary Tapang hosts a Lectio Divina site for sacred reading of the scriptures called Breaking the Bread of the Word 
  1. A Bible Enthronement ceremony in your home is a reminder that God is always present and active through his word. Here is a ritual you may use: Bible Enthronement Ceremony

What is your experience of Lectio Divina? How do you “enthrone” the word of God?

3. Almsgiving:

As we become one with Christ we learn to recognize Him in the suffering, in the poor, in the little ones of this world.

“For Christians perfection does not consist in attaining a sinless state; it consists in the Paschal Mystery, where pain and suffering are consumed by love” (Marko Rupnik, S.J.). We become people consumed by love who serve, who recognize our brothers and sisters in him, and in them, we encounter him.

St. Paul says that “by bearing one another’s burdens, believers fulfill the commandment of love. We are called to live in Christ’s love for others. Cardinal Henri De Lubac reminds us, through charity we start eternity right here. What are the ways you practice almsgiving during Lent?

In the Eucharist God shows us a love which goes "to the end" ( Jn. 13:1)

In the Eucharist God shows us a love which goes “to the end” ( Jn. 13:1)

4. Adoration and Thanksgiving:

In the word charity (agape), the meaning of Eucharist and love intertwine. What more could Jesus have done for us?

Truly, in the Eucharist, he shows us a love which goes “to the end” (Cf. Jn. 13:1), a love which knows no measure (John Paul II).[1] God establishes a communion of peace with us. The body and blood of Jesus is his love, in which divine life and human life have become one.

The Latin term for adoration, ad-oratio, implies physical contact, a kiss, an embrace, which is implicit in love. Eucharistic adoration becomes union; union with the living Lord and with his mystical Body (Cf. Benedict XVI). The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

Consequently the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love. In Adoration God is working for our holiness. Saint John Paul II once said: “In order to evangelize the world, we need experts in celebration, adoration and contemplation of the Holy Eucharist.” What is your experience of daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration?

5. Fasting:

Encourage one another! There is no human being who does not need encouragement, who does not need a person who smiles at them, who treats them as a son and daughter of God is to be treated. Fast from self-seeking in order to encourage others. Every word of encouragement or of consolation that I say is a word of the Spirit.

In encouragement, we restore others, repair injury, and ask pardon just as Jesus restored people to wholeness. God transforms and enters into our world so that there truly is a river of goodness greater than all the evil that could ever exist. God invites us to join him, to leave the ocean of evil, hate, violence, and selfishness and to identify ourselves with Him and enter into the river of His love (Cf. Benedict XVI).

We fast from desiring what others have in the way of gifts and talents by encouraging the good we see. “Rejoice always,” advocates Paul, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”(1 Thes.5: 16-18). What are some ways you might fast through encouragement?

As we encourage others our words become God’s Word. Through Mass and adoration we become Eucharist, blessed and broken for others. In our almsgiving we become food for the poor. Through our prayer we continue to open ourselves to the experience of mystica for an ongoing metanoia. Have a blessed Lent!

[1] John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistica

Photography:

Sonoran Desert Cross, Sr. Margaret Kerry, fsp, 2009 “all rights reserved.”

Bible Light, Sr. Margaret Kerry, fsp, 2007, “all rights reserved.”

Liturgy, Sr. Mary Emmanuel Alves, 2005, “all rights reserved.”

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About Author

A Daughter of St. Paul for 40 years Sr. Margaret continues to pursue new ways to proclaim the Gospel: sharing the Pauline Charism with the laity, writing books (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross; Prayers for the New Evangelization), & through direct evangelization. She is available for workshops on the Vocation & Mission of the Laity, Media Literacy, and The New Evangelization. [email protected]

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