Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday Reflections from Thomas Merton and Joan Chittister

"Now one of the things we must cast out first of all is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as an inexorable judge, we would not confidently await His mercy, or approach Him trustfully in prayer. Our peace, our joy in Lent are a guarantee of grace. -Thomas Merton -an Excerpt from Seasons of Celebration

"The message of Lent is clear: Alms are for self-giving; prayer is for personal growth in the mind of God; fasting is for self-discipline. What you get out of this kind of religion is not simply a change of liturgical cycles. What you get out of this kind of religion is a change of person. But when the person is changed then other actions will show it, and not all of them will be called “religious” by establishment types.

Once I have given enough alms to have learned to give myself recklessly away, then I will be capable of giving myself for nuclear disarmament and immigrant children and planetary survival with an abandonment that is dangerous.

Once I have prayed myself into the mind of Christ, I will bring the Christian ethic to the national budget and U.S. foreign policy and the economic order and the right to life with a clarity called “unreasonable” and “naive” perhaps, but hard to fool with civil religion.

Once I myself have fasted to the point of hunger, I will have the self-discipline it takes to spend my life in such a way that all the world may be able to be filled here in the Garden Earth. "-Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB from Reflection for Ash Wednesday, February 18 (2015)

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