REFLECTION ON THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Lent is a precious gift that our Church has given to us. It holds out opportunity and invites us. Way back many years ago, my spiritual director, a good and holy Benedictine monk, my spiritual mentor, suggested that during Lent, I should choose a companion to accompany myself on the journey or pilgrimage with its destination being the cross on calvary’s hill.
The idea was to choose a saint, become intimately acquainted with his or her life (by way of a biography found in the book, The Lives of the Saints), pray daily to that saint, and ask for direction and advice.
That may seem kind of farfetched! And all too easy. Let us examine the Church’s teaching on the “Communion of the Saints.”
We believe that the saints are still very much a part of the life of the Church even though they are now in heaven. Saints like St. Theresa of Lisieux, who said on her deathbed that she would spend eternity helping the faithful on earth to reach their goal. So the question comes to mind: where is heaven and how are we connected to the saints? Perhaps heaven is not all that far away!
Let us just say that there is a veil that separates this material world from the spiritual world. The communion we have, know it or not, is not only what unites us all in the Eucharist, but exists at all times—even outside of Mass.
The idea is not to imitate the saints, but to be inspired by them. For we must create our own unique reaction to the grace that it held out to us.
Grace and the prayers of the saints are always present to us. I am reminded of the various prompts that we may find Online. In trying to solicit a reaction about what a Website offers, we are usually given a choice. “Count me in,” “Got it!” or “Not now.” When we are offered grace, what is our reaction? Count me in, Got it, or Not now? How often our response is “Not now,” meaning we are not adverse to the idea but we are not ready to deal with it. Putting it off until the future may be a valid and honest answer, but it also might mean that we want to forget it.
When Jesus sent his disciples out on mission, he sent them two-by-two. If we try to make our Lenten Pilgrimage a one-person trek, we might become discouraged and not make it to our destination. Having a companion saint to encourage us along the way, to inspire us by their strong union with God, will spur us on. But we need to learn to hear with the ears of our heart.
Look for a new saint. One that you know little of. I suggest St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), or St. Henry Cardinal Newman. Both, great companions!
You also might benefit from a Website: “Online Spiritual Journey:” reflections.conceptionabbey.org.
May Blessings be yours this Lent!
Fr. Wissman is a retired priest of the diocese. He lives in Bolivar, MO.