Today, I will begin short posts concerning the spirit of the following liturgical days. I can’t promise daily posts as this is not possible with my studies, but I will be writing more frequently than I have the past couple of weeks.
A quick update, my exams went extremely well for this past semester. And this coming semester is very promising: some Scripture courses are thrown in there with an amazing course on Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude…just unpacking the Summa Theologica for 4 hours every week!
I also went on pilgrimage to Salzburg, hosted by a priest friend of mine. It was a cold and prayerful time, with a couple brezeln (pretzels) thrown in there. I met some families during those days as well. It is always edifying to meet prayerful and strong Catholic families. It helps an aspirant to the priesthood to understand just what he is laying down at the Altar, and WHY! I’ve seen the sacrifice of so many families, day in and day out. Prayers being said, work getting done, meals cooked, Masses attended, chores accomplished, and at the end of the day, the parents strive to be attentive to their growing little ones AND to each other. Some of my most formative moments have been in the presence of families, it really is an ecclesial reality.
On to the reflections. I’ll be taking inspiration from the work entitled Divine Intimacy. I may return to past posts from St. Thomas Aquinas’s reflections on Lent. The format is simple: one places himself in the Presence of the Lord, has two points of reflection, and then ends with a colloquy (a conversation with the Lord).
As has been spoken of before on this blog, we always overcomplicate prayer. What does Our Lord want? He wants us to be with Him. The talking, the listening comes. When we struggle with prayer, or even just the concept of prayer, we should ask ourselves: “Am I even honestly going before the Presence of God?” …
Presence of God – O Lord, I come to You with a keen desire to learn how to respond to Your invitations. Our Father…
I. The collect of the Mass reminds us that we are sinners, but leads us to a profound humility; it leads us to the purpose we start on today in these preparatory days for Lent: “to the end that we, who are justly afflicted because of our sins, may through Thy mercy, be freed from them.” Humility is the first step – for who of us doesn’t need to progress in sanctity! – and St. Paul, in the epistle urges us to undertake the ceaseless spiritual labor of conversion to God – each step is a new conversion to God. Generosity is the key word in this spiritual labor: a generous struggle to overcome ourselves, a generous denial of self by humility, a generous denial of the body by physical mortification, all to receive the incorruptible crown of sanctity, of glory. [1 For 9: 24-27 – 10: 1-5].
II. Each hour is God’s hour; and He passes by and calls us, even to the very last hour! There are two aspects in this regard in today’s Gospel: first, each is called to labor assiduously in the Lord’s vineyard (for his own soul to be cultivated, first by the grace of Our Lord and then with our cooperation), and, second, that no one can be dispensed from giving thought and care to the welfare, the salvation, of others. First and foremost, every member of the Mystical Body of Christ is called to an apostolate by example, prayer and sacrifice. Jesus commands us: “Go you also into My vineyard.” [cf. Mt. 20: 1-6].
Colloquy: “In my trouble I call upon You, my God, and from Your holy temple, You hear my prayer . . . You are my strength, O Lord, my support, my refuge, my Redeemer, You are my help in time of trouble. He who knows You, hopes in You, for You do not abandon the one who seeks You. From the depths of the abyss. I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice. If You will mark our iniquities, O Lord, who can stand it? But with You there is mercy, and by reason of Your law, I trust in You, O Lord! [Gradual from the Mass]. My weapons for this battle of spiritual labor will be prayer, the practice of the presence of God, and silence. But, my Love, I cannot do this of my own power! And, hence, you say, ‘Come, follow Me; do not fear.’
O, You who invite me, help me to do what You ask of me.