Twice a month the staff of St. Gregory the Great Church send out a spiritual reflection to all parishioners for whom we have an e-mail address. What follows are the most recent of these reflections. If you would like to have your name added to our e-mail reflection list, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add your name to our listing.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – SISTER BARBARA QUINN – MARCH 20
“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering it will be happier …”
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
A few weeks ago, Chuck Fiori and I were visiting at Wesley Place. We walked into Anna’s room. She was talking to herself. “What are you talking about, Anna?” I asked.
“I’m hoping,” she said.
“What are you hoping for?” I said.
“I’m hoping for a happy day. I always, hope, Sr. Barbara,” she said. “It keeps me going.”
For many years my ministry was visiting the sick. No matter how difficult people’s lives have been, I always have found a shred of hope in their prayer.
Jesus came to give us new life. Through the Resurrection he brought us the gift of hope. It sometimes takes a long time for good things to come. Look at nature. Many years ago, Terry Prorok put some sticks together in my yard. I called it my Hope Tree. Now it is a huge tree; just take a look at my yard! I have prayed for many people at that lovely site.
And when I think of hope, I often think of Anna at the temple praying and fasting and waiting for the Messiah. I love that story. And now it also makes me think of Anna at Wesley Place, hoping for a happy day.
So with Anna and Anna, let us pray for the woman whose husband died suddenly, for the man who lost his job, for the mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and for all of us, may we continue to hope as the prayer after the Lord’s Prayer says, “as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.” Amen.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – FR. BRIAN FISCHER – MARCH 6
Liturgists will sometimes point out that a procession has a lot in common with a pilgrimage. A procession is a pilgrimage in miniature. One of the ways in which we identify ourselves as Church is as "a Pilgrim People." Together, we are on a journey from birth to death, from baptism to committal, from history to eternity.
A procession is a ritual enactment of this journey, this "pilgrimage," whereby we depart from one place, travel together across a distance, and arrive at another place: "a destination." In a way, every Christian pilgrimage, every liturgical procession is a re-enactment of Jesus' own journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem, from crucifixion to resurrection, from the Father back to the Father.
Lent is often described as a journey as well. It is a journey, a "pilgrimage" of forty days, during which we process across time, rehearsing, for a season, the whole Christian life. Lent is a sort of "Exodus," by means of which we are led from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land.
The Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and alms-giving, virtuous ends in themselves, are also a means of marking our progress. They deepen our sense of making headway across the "distance" of forty days. Perhaps fasting, especially, transforms the experience of time into distance. One becomes more spiritually aware of the range and expanse that one has travelled:
"Today is my fourth day without meat."
"Tomorrow marks the end of my third week without alcohol."
"I have 'gone' forty days without cursing."
Easter becomes less an arbitrary date on the calendar that we passively approach, and more a physical place that we earnestly long for.
A traditional Lenten practice that enacts the rituals of both ‘procession’ and ‘pilgrimage’ is praying the Stations of the Cross. Here, in both ritual and discipline, we accompany Christ on his way to the cross. We bind our sorrows and sufferings to his, so that he might offer them together to the Father, and thereby sanctify them.
Each year during Lent we set out on the path toward Jerusalem. Let us remember, though, that before us and beside us, leading us and accompanying us, goes Christ, who has made the journey for us once already.
Christ is the path.
Christ is the map.
Christ is the end of our journey.