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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lenten Meditation from the Sisters of Life

The following post is a Lenten Discernment Meditation from Sr. Mary Gabriel, SV, Vocations Director for the Sisters of Life:

Know that you and all your loved ones are in the prayers of the Sisters of Life as we progress through this holy season!

-Lenten Discernment Meditation-
Lent came upon us early this year. Here we are entering March, already deep in the Holy Season. During Lent the Church calls us to fast. What is the purpose of fasting? Christian sacrifice is not about giving to God what He would not have without us but rather it is about receptivity. God does not need our coffee or our jelly donuts. The real purpose of fasting is to make room in our hearts for Him. In choosing not to take a cup of coffee or a donut we are saying to the Lord, I abstain from trying to fill my own desires and give you the empty space in my heart to fill as You desire. The season of Lent is a season of Love. The Lord is speaking to each of us when He says; “So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.” Hos 2:16

Deep in the heart of every woman is the desire to be loved for herself. The Lord places these desires in our hearts, and He intends them to be fulfilled. The trouble is that we often try to fulfill our desires by our own means. It is a great struggle to surrender control and allow the Lord to fill our hearts in the time and the way He has designed for us uniquely. Opening one’s heart to the possibility of a religious vocation can be a scary thing. We are afraid. Will the Lord really fill the desires of my heart? Will I lose my identity, the uniqueness of who I am? We fear letting go of what I want to do and how I want to do it. We fear the unknown. The answer to all these fears is Love, and love is a person - Jesus Christ. Cardinal O’Connor would encourage “Do not be afraid to put yourself into the hands of the God who created you.” The Lord is faithful, tender, and gentle. Mother Teresa would often tell her Sisters: “Go into the Chapel, sit before the Tabernacle and say ‘Here I am Jesus, love me.’” It is in sitting in front of Him and allowing Him to love you that you will come to know and surrender to His loving plan for you.

Every definitive vocation, whether it be to marriage or religious life, is fundamentally a call to spousal love. The question each of us must ask, especially in a time of vocational discernment, is: Lord, You have created my heart to give and receive love, how are you calling me to love with my entire life?

Lent is a precious time to re-orient ourselves to the serious and joyous reality that Jesus Christ has redeemed us and set us free through His sacrificial, spousal love. We belong to Him. Lent allows us time to grow in our response to His love and to fan the fire of love in our hearts for Jesus - to love Him ardently that we might love others as ourselves.

As Sisters of Life, through the faithful living of our vows, we seek to surrender daily to the Lord trusting that our love will be made fruitful in Him. Through the power of consecration, grace is pour into the people hearts around the world, that others too may say YES to the gift of life and self-giving of love.

This Lent thousands of women will be shocked to learn that they are pregnant, many others will learn they cannot conceive a child. Married couples will face new threats to the bond of their marriage. Families will watch as loved ones struggle with a long-term and debilitating illness. Each of these situations is a call to love. Each requires the grace of heroic love, to accept the Lord’s promise of life within particular circumstances.

You too, at this point in your life, during this holy Lenten season, can become instruments of grace for others. Every little fast, every yes to heroic love, every prayer from the heart, every emptying of yourself will fan into greater flame the fire in your heart, transform you to receive the fullness of Love in the beating Heart of Jesus, and will make more room in the world for His grace to be received.

Do not be afraid to cast down your idols this Lent to make room for the Living God.

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