Holy Thursday: L.O.V.E. Muscles in Training

Holy Thursday takes us to the Upper Room where the first thing Jesus did was wash the feet of the disciples, humbly like a servant. Across the world this evening thousands of lay people will have their feet washed by the clergy. If my feet were to be in-public-washees, I’d make sure they were clean, really clean.

At the time of Jesus, however, most folks wore sandals. It gets decidedly dusty walking around the Middle East, which would make the disciples’ feet dirty and smelly. But Jesus takes those smelly feet gently in His hands and washes the grime away.

Jesus, their Teacher. Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus, the Son of God.

Jesus, on His knees with a towel and basin, washing their feet. Teaching them (& us) how to develop L.O.V.E. muscles:

Live Others-centered Valuing Everyone.

L – We must choose to live love, because love is a choice. Choosing to live with a towel of love wrapped around our attitudes vs. being dead to the needs of those around us and within us. Living in love is to be alive with the love of Christ in the deepest part of our hearts, letting His love empassion and empower every part of our being.

O – Washing feet puts the focus on what we can do for others. Small things, big things, sometimes smelly things – our actions speak louder than words. Being others-centered means not seeking ‘what’s in it for me’ but what’s in me for others. (“Love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres…” I Corinthians 13)

V –To tenderly wash someone’s feet intimates value. Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but first we must ‘get’ our beloved status as daughters and sons of the King of Heaven. We are beloved. As we act out of our beloved-ness, we recognize that same status in others and lift them up as fully beloved of God with our words and deeds.

E – Tax collectors (sell-outs to Rome), zealots (freedom fighters/terrorists depending on which side you were on), & Judas (the betrayer): Jesus washed the feet of everyone in that Upper Room. That means our annoying colleagues, neighbors, pushy Republican/ Democrat in-laws, liberal or conservative (sometimes) friends. Ever thought about washing the feet of those with whom you have very little in common? (Or maybe even dislike?) Love is not so much about ‘like’ as it is about choice & commitment. Everyone also includes HIV/AIDS victims & people of every color, ethnicity, orientation & ability around this world. EVERYONE.

If we exercised L.O.V.E. muscles more often (vs. ‘judge-others’ muscles) maybe (just maybe) we might fulfill what Jesus Christ asked us to do.

“Do you know what I have done to you? If I, your Lord & Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet… As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you; abide in My love… This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”   (John 13:12, 14; John 15: 9,12)

It’s time to put on our aprons of faith, roll up our sleeves and start washing. Let’s give our L.O.V.E. muscles a good workout.

grace, peace & busy basins (& towels)

Virginia : )

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Snapshots & Whatnot: Paths of Prayer

Yes, there is a theme connecting these disparate snapshots, if you read the whatnot!

Snapshots:

Glorious paths through country meadows

Windy, rocky paths to summits

Busy city streets

A drainy sea..

& Whatnot:

Searching for a quote today I found something in an old journal from Carlo Carretto (1910-1988), a member of the Little Brothers of Jesus who served in the Algerian Sahara as a desert contemplative in the spirit of Charles de Foucauld and Saint Francis of Assisi. Carlo Carretto’s spiritual writings have impacted my life for many years. May his prayerful insights help prepare our hearts for the Easter Triduum.

“The path of prayer… is now a glorious path through the meadows, now a peaceful country road with no obstacles where we can abandon ourselves to quiet thought, now a rough mule-track winding up the mountains, now a way over the bare rocks on the summit. Sometimes it’s like a city street full of noise and distractions, at others it follows the water off the streets into underground drains and so to the river or sea, carrying with it the rubbish and filth of life.

But it is always prayer.”       Carlo Carretto, from God’s Name is Love

grace, peace & prayerful paths

Virginia : )

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A Prayer for Strength

On this Tuesday of Holy Week here’s a prayer from a favorite saint, especially relevant when dark clouds loom large in our lives and we need the Light of Christ to lead us (and calm our trembling hearts.)

“O Christ Jesus

When all is darkness

And we feel our weakness and helplessness,

Give us the sense of Your presence,

Your love and Your strength.

Help us to have perfect trust

In Your protecting love

And strengthening power,

So that nothing may frighten or worry us,

For, living close to You,

We shall see Your hand,

Your purpose, Your will through all things.”

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

grace, peace & prayer(s)

Virginia : )

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Costly Worship: Mary & Martha

On this Monday of Holy Week, we remember Mary’s act of worship anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume. I’d like to imagine Martha, her sister, sitting next to her with a towel (so nothing stained the carpet.)

Sometimes I resonate more with Martha – getting things done, cooking in the kitchen, a make-it-happen person. Other times, I aspire to be like Mary – sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words, basking in His presence.

Navigating our lives of faith, it’s really both and, not either or. Mary made a gesture of costly worship, but consider Martha’s intrinsic role in the household. If Mary blew a whole year’s worth of wages, wouldn’t Martha have a say in it? In a sense, this sacrificial act of worship came from both of them, but in different ways.

Just like at times our acts of costly worship can take different forms – changing diapers, care-giving, teaching, leading a team, studying, reaching out to colleagues (even irascible ones), giving of ourselves (our presence & presents), spending time in prayer & adoration (even when we’re slammed), laying down our lives for others…

All we do can be acts of worship, costly perfume, if we offer them up to Jesus (& do them with His love.)

grace, peace & costly perfume

Virginia : )

“It is not how much we are doing but how much love, how much honesty, how much faith, is put into doing it.” Mother Teresa (St. Teresa of Calcutta)

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Passion Sunday: The Cross & Unforgiving Ire

Sometimes I wonder how God puts up with us broken clay pots. We get so worked up over niddly, piddly things (‘he said, she said’ and ‘he did this, she did that’) when Jesus asks us to forgive others and be His hands and feet of love.

(Note the nails in His crucified hands & feet.)

Today is Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday, when we recount palm waving Hosannas, the Last Supper, the agony in Gethsemane, the betrayal, trial, scourging, crucifixion, and the body of Jesus getting put into a grave. We’ll revisit these events throughout Holy Week, but next Sunday is Easter so today there’s lots to contemplate.

After listening to all the Scriptures this morning, how can we stay entrenched in unforgiving ire when we consider the Cross & Passion of Jesus Christ?

Like Peter in the garden (sleeping) & later warming himself by the fire in denial mode, I’m just a clay pot. I have and probably will continue to make mistakes: to sin by what I have done and what I have failed to do. As I ask forgiveness of our Heavenly Father, I ask that He wash my heart, mind & spirit with the soap of His mercy – the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Our frustrations, failures & hurts can be laid at the foot of the Cross. As we suffer the ill will of others, however, we should look up at Jesus. See Him hanging on the cross, bloody, beaten, and humiliated – a crown of thorns adorning His head.

Look, then listen to His voice: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

As He forgives us our shortcomings, tempers, our being clay pots with clay feet, He asks us to forgive others, for often they don’t know what they are doing. How they hurt us, and others, and themselves.

The thing is, we need Holy-Spirit-Help to forgive with the love of Christ. Look at Jesus on the cross. Imagine His agony when you think about the difficult people in your life. He suffered to forgive me and to forgive you. Through His Love nailed on the cross we are therefore meant to forgive and love others.

If you still can’t forgive Mr. or Ms. Difficult in your life, look at the cross again.

And again. And again. And again.

Until His love for you pierces your heart. When that happens, it becomes easier to really love others in a I Corinthians 13 sort of way. (Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…)

Don’t let pride or what ‘he said, she said’ get in the way. Don’t let the past cloud the future.

Hear, again, the voice of Jesus saying:

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:14)

Forgiveness is part & parcel of the sacrificial love of Jesus on the Cross.

Let go of the past. Cling to Jesus. Trust Him. Trust Him. Trust Him.

Do not be afraid to embrace a new future – a future with His love renewed in you. Let Jesus filter the hard bits of your unforgiving ire through the prism of His mercy and grace.

See His forgiving Hands, scarred by nails, reaching out to hold you. Feel the warmth of His mercy gently wash your heart’s grime away, then turn & BE His mercy.

Forgive, as He has forgiven you.

grace, peace & merciful Love

Virginia  : )

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24 March 1980: Oscar Romero, a Life of Courageous Faith

Sometimes faith comes with a price – an expensive exchange if we’re serious about it. Consider Archbishop Oscar Romero, who in faith raised his voice against injustices pervading El Salvador and paid with his life, martyred on 24 March 1980 while celebrating Mass at the Divina Providencia Chapel in San Salvador.

As we remember Archbishop Oscar Romero’s life of courageous faith, the love of Jesus Christ he shared (especially with the poor), and the sacrifice of his life – his voice continues to challenge our world toward justice.

Selected as Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, he was considered a ‘safe choice’ – an academic. He could have continued comfortably as he was, yet the murder of his good friend, Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, shook him to stand up for the rights of the poor, which he did tirelessly to all sides of the conflict in El Salvador.

After receiving death threats a few weeks before he was murdered, he said: “Let it be known that it is no longer possible to kill the voice of justice.” May his words continue to stir our hearts with faith that stands up for others, loves without prejudice, seeks mutual understanding, and works toward lasting justice.

Here are a few favorite quotes from Through the Year with Oscar Romero (St. Anthony Messenger Press) to stir our spirits into action as we remember his life today.

“Christianity is not a collection of truths that one has to believe, of laws one has to keep, a list of prohibitions. Christianity is a Person that loved me so much that He demands my love.  Christianity is Christ.”  (November 6, 1977)

“This is the mission of the church: to awaken the spiritual meaning of life, the divine worth of human action.”  (August 20, 1978)

“It is not enough to attend Mass on Sunday; it is not enough to call yourself a Catholic. Appearances are not enough. God is not satisfied with appearance. God wants the garment of justice. God wants Christians dressed in love.”  (October 15, 1978)

“Faith doesn’t only mean believing with the head but also committing your heart and your life.”  (January 7, 1979)

“A civilization of love is not sentimentality; it is justice & truth. True love consists in demanding of the relationships with those we love what is just. There can’t be love where there are lies.”  (April 12, 1979)

“Social justice is not so much a law that orders distribution. Seen from a Christian perspective, it is an internal attitude like that of Christ, who being wealthy, became poor to share His love with the poor. Share what you are & what you have.”  (February 24, 1980)

“If only we realized that the person in need is Christ, the one who has been tortured, the one who has been imprisoned, the one who has been murdered, and if, in the body of each person thrown in so undignified a fashion by the side of the road, we were to see the Christ who was left there, I would wager a golden medal that we would pick him up tenderly and we would kiss him and we would not be ashamed of him.” (March 16, 1980)

“That this immolated Body and this Blood sacrificed for humankind, may nourish our bodies and our blood in suffering and in pain, like Christ, not for its own sake, but rather to give the concepts of justice and peace to our people.  Let us join together then, intimately in faith and hope in this moment of prayer.”  (March 24, 1980)

grace, peace & courageous faith

Virginia

p.s. For those of you unfamiliar with the life of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero, click here to read more about his life via The Archbishop Romero Trust.

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beauteous wayside sacraments (quickie quote!)

On this last Friday of Lent, here’s a quickie quote to challenge our hearts.

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s handwriting – a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

cup of blessings (just had to use this pic again!)

grace, peace & wayside sacraments

Virginia : )

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