Wednesday of the first week of Lent

Wednesday of the first week of Lent

Spring is getting closer here in Saint Paul MN! Today the weather reaching the 50’s and it actually felt like things were warming up. The snow is starting to melt and along with the melting, we are being warned of flooding. This has been a few days filled with much suffering due to the earthquake and events in Japan. It reminds me of how uncertain life can be. I wonder what it must be like to see a wave coming your way—and not feel like there is any way to stop it! Talk about surrender. My prayers are with the people, those in Japan and the many others who have lost friends and family through this tragedy.

I am still pondering the readings from Sunday and have decided to move on for now. This week—the last three days—have flown by. My prayer time has been rather disjointed, starting with the Monday morning 3am wake up, Tuesday was a 400am and today was closer to normal, 6am but I was gone all day without much of a break. This is when I find it challenging to keep my focused silent time. I make sure to read the Liturgy of the Hours, Office Readings and Morning Prayer and the Mass readings which for me are the foundation of my prayer life but that stack of books beside my chair remain untouched! I LOVE knowing that around the world, there are people reading the Liturgy of the Hours, and many have done this for centuries! Something about this part of the Catholic tradition really touches my soul—like a part of something profoundly sacred that has survived and continues to thrive, both among Catholics and other people/traditions who have embraced this practice.

So with that in mind, I share a few of the prayers from yesterday and today in the Liturgy of the Hours. The psalm prayer from Tuesday seems appropriate in light of the Japan situation. It reads, “Rise up, Lord, in defense of your people, do not hide your face from our troubles. Father of orphans, wealth of the poor, we rejoice in making you known, may we find comfort and security in times of pain and anxiety.”

In my chaplain role, one of the questions I often ask is how they find comfort in their current situation and where is God for them? I am surprised at how quickly many people respond that they feel God is with them and many often say that their suffering has brought them closer to God, whatever and however they define God. Sometimes it seems to me that it is easier to ask God to rise up when I am facing troubles…

The psalm prayer for today also stuck me. It reads, “Lord God, our strength and salvation, put in us the flame of your love and make our love for you grow to a perfect love which reaches to our neighbor.” And the opening prayer for Mass, “Lord, look upon us and hear our prayer. By the good works you inspire, help us to discipline our bodies and to be renewed in spirit.”

I read these prayers and they make me thing. How am I reaching out to my neighbor? How am I disciplining my body and being renewed in the spirit? Am I offering anything that adds value to the world? It is easy for me to see the face of God while I am at the hospital, praying with the babies and families in the neo-natal intensive care unit but when it comes to the person who is driving like an idiot—well, I fall very short.

It is during these moments when I refer back to the words of todays Psalm, 51. “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me of my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out of your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.”

How beautiful—a clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

In the fray of my busy days, this simple line from Psalm 51 makes me stop and pause with gratitude. There is always the opportunity to begin again. And so I begin again.

Blissfully, Susan

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def. Bliss: -noun Supreme Happiness, Utter Joy/Contentment; the Joy of Paradise!