By Father William Muench
Lent is flying right by. Some days when I consider my Lenten program this year, I am rather disappointed; I don’t seem to be becoming holier.
Am I becoming a better person this year? I really haven’t changed that much. I still give in to my usual temptations, even those that interfere with my relationship with God.
So, I have to get serious about my resolutions for Lent. I need a lot more time for prayer. I simply can’t miss these opportunities give me during this sacred season of Lent.
The next step for me is to find some help from some companions for Lent. My first thought is Thomas Merton. You remember him and his wonderful writings. Merton became a Catholic during his college days and, later on, became a Trappist Monk and a priest. His writings beginning with his early biography and the many journals that contained his teaching on prayer.
Merton was also very ecumenical and reached out to others of various faiths, searching for further ideas about prayer. Near the end of his life he studied Buddhism and searched to find meaning in the prayer life of Buddhists. He died in an accident while attending a conference in India, a meeting of Christians and Buddhists.
He writes this: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.”
My next companion will be Catherine Doherty. Again, I am certain that you know about her. She is the Founder of the community of laymen, lay women, and priests called Madonna House, located in Combermere, Ontario.
I would like to quote from her book on “Reflections in Lent.” She writes this, “How much do I love? How often in my life does the pronoun ‘I’ disappear – replaced by the words, them, us, him or her? In this we have a very simple yardstick of love. Let us say a though comes into your mind: ‘I want to do this.’ If it is something God would like you to do, go ahead and do it. But if not, erase it and keep on erasing it. The world ‘I’ will disappear.
This book that I noticed today is entitled, “Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, An Approach to Life in Fullness.”