PARADOXICAL

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

 

Lent 2014 reflections: Day 1: Hooray for today!


First off, I thank Stef for another opportunity to do this. It has been quite a fruitful exercise for me last year, and so I am excited to do it again this year. I was asked to do the choosing this time, and due to the dearth of material on my end, I had to choose what’s available: Sr. Faustina’s Diary.  This material appealed to me because it is quite hard-core, at least for me and my own circumstances. I’ve been going through a lot the past two years that I felt only the contemplative types are able to guide me. Besides, I’ve never done this sort of reflection before. I’ve read Francis of Assisi’s biography as well as Sr. Therese of Liseaux’s autobiography and I learned so much from them, but I never made an effort to jot down my mental-spiritual experience.

If not Faustina, then I thought we could give John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila a try, but these latter two are even ‘worse.’

What do I expect in this self-administered retreat? Since the famous diary is all about God's unfathomable mercy, I want exactly that this Lent: learn more about God's unfathomable mercy. Being a beneficiary, however, of a long series of retreats in community, I've learned that the better retreats are God-directed, all about emptying oneself for God's inspiration. I hope my ensuing reflections here will create a space for God for whatever His purpose this year is. Of course, I wish greater conversion, a deeper experience of God's love and mercy, but why should I dictate the agenda? Let me and my big ego not get in God's way!

Today, let me react to Sr. Faustina’s opening prayer. In it, she underlines the great blessing that is the present moment, which someone said is a present or gift.
When I look into the future I am frightened.
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all.

It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct or add to the past;
For neither sages nor prophets could do that.
And so what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.

O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.
This prayer-poem struck me because it is so Buddhist. I thought Buddhist thought has no place in Christianity, but there you have it – right in Faustina’s prayer. This is the kind of prayer that gladdens my heart and gives me courage because of the great truth contained in it. The past is gone – although I may account for everything I did in the past, “what’s done cannot be undone,” to quote Shakespeare. The only thing I can do is live the present moment to the full after asking forgiveness for the past and doing what I can in reparation.
 It is our great duty to learn from the past, but to be weighed down by the past? That’s a great folly.
Same is true with the future. We must think of the future, but not in a way that makes us anxious in the present moment and blinds us to its new gifts.

This is all for now.

No, wait, what if my today is such an unappetizing, unappealing present? It's nothing like what the unfortunate Syrian and Coptic Christians are going through right now, but let's not compare sufferings -- suffering is suffering, and as a long-time sufferer, I know what it entails and thus I am bound to treat suffering and sufferers with reverence.

Well, what can I do? In life, I've learned that when there's no choice left in a given situation, the only thing I have is my reaction to it -- it effect, it's a contradictory statement because I will always have a choice.

And I choose to live through whatever it is that is bugging me big time today! Wow, that's so easy to put on paper/in print.

Here's hoping and praying I will be able to live my day to day moment with that courageous stance. Particularly this charismatic community song's  (based on Habakkuk 3:16-19stance:

Though the fig tree blossom not, nor fruit be on the vine,
Though the fields produce no food,
And though the flock be lost,

I will joy, I will joy, I will joy in You, my God.
I will joy in your salvation.

You set my feet upon high places.
You make me run like a hind.
Oh, Lord, be swift to answer.
I will wait, I will abide.

I will joy, I will joy, I will joy in You, my God.
I will joy in your salvation.



This is not so much masochism as much as going through the fire willingly or with acceptance -- suffering without shortcuts -- while choosing the side of theological joy or "theological hope" all the while. It means that, amid the pain, I can still hope, I can still have joy in my heart, I can still smile. 

Again, here's wishing I could blurt out the same tagline that a McDonald's ad used recently: Hooray for today!


Comments:
thanks for a great beginning to our Lenten conversation!! i hope to share some of my thoughts tomorrow.
 
don't stress over it. no pressure. write as time and your mind permit
 
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