Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Daily Lent reflections here

Daily reflections will be available on this blog for Lent 2019

The word ‘Lent’, I am told, comes from an old English word which means Spring. And this can be a helpful start. Lent is the Church’s season for a springtime of the soul. It is a time for the dead things to fall away and the new to spring forth in healthy growth.
We need to begin Lent confident that our Lord Jesus Christ wants us to be renewed in Him, and that He sends His Holy Spirit to the Church to renew her. And that means each and every one of us.
In order to get to the first principles of Lent, the word to properly grasp is conversion. Any Christian renewal in the Church must be about conversion.
This is not a one-off event, but an on-going process for most of us. The key to renewal is conversion, and there are two sides to it: there is a turning away, and, a turning towards. We turn away from all that is away from Christ, and we turn towards all that is of Christ, in fact, Christ Himself. For there to be renewal in our Lent, in our spring-time, there must be a falling away of the dead things, and a turning towards the life-giving. Christ called this “repent and believe”. This was His principle exhortation as He proclaimed the Kingdom of God. So fundamentally we repent of sin and we turn to Christ. We turn away from all that is deathly (i.e. sin, selfishness, evil etc), and we turn towards that which is life-giving (i.e. Jesus Christ the Light and Saviour of the world).
Lenten Counsel  Jesus’ call to conversion does not aim at outward works but at the conversion of the heart, or interior conversion. Without inner conversion, outward penances remain sterile and false.

However, interior conversion will be expressed in visible signs, gestures and works of penance. So we are not saying here, that conversion is restricted to the private and interior self, but that this is where it must begin. This interior place, which is called the heart, is the source of our actions, decisions, and over time our character. So when the heart is converted, when it repents of sin and turns to Christ, everything in life is affected.

So our Lenten practices should be focused on conversion, the conversion of our hearts, away from sin and to Christ our Lord.

Fr Ian

[Read more about this at CCC 1430-1433 in your Catechism.]

Whoever is not against you is for you

Mark 9:38-40

To understand the context of our gospel reading we need to remember that earlier in this chapter the disciples had failed to be able to perform an exorcism. It occurred immediately after the Transfiguration, and our Lord told the disciples this kind can only be cast out with prayer and fasting.

Now at the end of the chapter St John brings to Jesus the case of a successful exorcism performed in Jesus’ name by someone outside the company. John finds this situation unacceptable.

You might remember in the book of Numbers, Joshua was similarly disturbed by some men who were prophesying outside the camp. Moses rebuked Joshua. Similarly Jesus rebukes John. Jesus corrects John’s jealousy, telling him he is not to prevent the exorcism.

The general principle is that whoever is not against you is for you. God works in ways beyond the limits of one’s own group. This lesson will be grasped later when the disciples face, in the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit descending even upon the Gentiles. Again no one was to prevent them being baptised.

Our Lord encourages communion not competition. Whoever is not against you is for you. This spirit of communion must apply to us all. This includes the way in which the tradition institutions in the church (parish, diocese and religious orders) relate to new organisations and movements in the church. The Holy Spirit raises up new movements and they should not be prevented.

DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)