Archive for February, 2010

Ash Wednesday Homily: Insights into Forgiveness-Becoming a Phoenix!

February 18, 2010 - 9:56 am 556 Comments

An Ash Wednesday Homily:
The Practice of Forgiveness: On Becoming a Phoenix!

The time span between tonight, Ash Wednesday, to Easter morning, is the time in the history of Western church and its religious archetypal culture, that focuses on Jesus as a working, living, relational model for how to live our lives more fully, more compassionately.
His message is of particular importance to those among us who are seeking a more spiritual and empathetic basis for their lives. Depending on how you look at him, and I see him as a spiritually infused man who was called into a special intimacy with the Divine. In and through his teachings about having compassion for one another and ourselves, he models how to live our lives in a way that affirms and bears witness to all that is holy and loving in everyone of us. As a role model, we can see his example as both a challenge and a gift…
Among his hardest teachings to uphold were his indications on forgiveness. He sought to overcome the concept of tribal revenge, and he offered a remedy for all slights and injustices, which we know as the practice of forgiveness. When others asked him how this act of compassion was to be done, or what attitude promotes and accomplishes it, we can remember his words:
“[Love your enemies, bless those who would curse you,
pray for others who might abuse you. As you wish others would treat you or would do for you, do that for them. …
It is of no credit to you to only love those who are lovable, but you are to lend and love, give and do, whatever is good and kind. Be merciful, and compassionate, even as your Father in Heaven has mercy and compassion for you.”] Luke 6 NRSV adapted Mt. 5:48
In modern terms, his words and example ask us to live by empathy, and to live with a courage that extends your caring to others. Do not allow yourself to dwell in the toxic feelings of judgment, stuck in our resentments, bogged down by regrets, or wallowing in remorse or fear. Instead, his inspired and insightful teaching directs us to try to see your struggles and trials as reflected or shared by all people, and with sufficient wisdom or understanding, and a generous amount of forgiveness, we will win our heart’s release from any lingering bitterness or guilt.
Now, I am no stranger to fear, resentment, or guilt- throughout the many twists of fate, and those painful reversals of fortune, both in my personal life and in my larger ministry, there have been times when it seems that I could not do enough, be good enough, or be reconciled to the many different and difficult tasks that have been given to me.
I suspect that this is true for each of you… Whether your particular challenge or concern has been to be a good parent, spouse, worker, sibling, or caregiver, those nagging doubts and those disturbing feelings can lodge in our emotions or inhabit our hearts as deep feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and powerlessness.
Even if we can identify that these feelings are varieties of unhealthy guilt or shame, just knowing it isn’t enough… We must act to completely release or reduce those negative feelings.
While recognition and acceptance are good and necessary first steps, the next, more difficult, yet more complete steps in our freedom, our health, and our joy is what the spiritual teachers East and West recommend: forgiveness, which becomes our flight path up and out… Up and out towards an unselfish regard and abiding respect for others and ourselves.
My friend, professional colleague, Joan Borysenko, has previously outlined these differences in two books. … The first is called Guilt is the Teacher and Love is the Lesson, and the second is entitled Seventy Times Seven. She concludes that our whole society tends to run on unhealthy guilt… What are some of the signs she lists as unhealthy guilt?
First, being overly committed, having too much to do, too many activities, being too wired or plugged in, and thereby having no real time to yourself- especially when it comes to giving sufficient time to reflect on the meaning of one’s life and its actions. Guilt festers when you do not give yourself enough time to attend to your spiritual and ethical growth, to give time to your need for wellness, creativity, or real relationships…

She goes on in her list to include: perfectionism, playing the martyr, keeping negative partnerships for the sake of money or emotional insecurity… Or blaming yourself for your parent’s problems, and accepting false responsibility or excessively worrying about things that are out of your personal control! The list goes on… And I am sure you can add things of your own…
Her remedy is also mine, and both come from the wisdom of Jesus. Practice forgiveness- practice it daily, hourly, if need be, holding on to no poisonous thoughts or destructive feelings, and then be willing to look courageous and empathetically at your own flaws in a new light…
As my Jungian and archetypal studies have taught me, these flaws, these areas of weakness, inadequacy, or avoidance that we all have- are paradoxical and powerful. These shadow emotions and hurtful experiences -when they are understood, or when they are brought to our conscious awareness-, can become our disguised blessings. These flaws can be transformed into shining facets of wisdom and understanding- Since these experiences have been created from the pressures of life and our imperfections- that serve us well by refining and redefining us, and that keep us exploring, and growing.
When these troublesome feelings manifest, and take it from me, they always do… They are, in their positive light, asking us to understand them, heal them or release them…
and it is from the synergistic grace we receive from those personal struggles, that we can authentically come to know a greater sense of wholeness, equipoise, and peace.
I believe that we are all in need of forgiveness… therefore, we need to be always ready and willing to forgive ourselves and others, for it is from such humility that positive change is encouraged, and it is from that blessing of release, that we encourage the growth of wisdom in our hearts, creating a more resilient , multifaceted spiritual understanding of life.
In my research, and in my life practice, forgiveness has four general ways it expresses itself- two are self defeating and unproductive, and two are positive and are more effective or more redemptive.
Briefly, the two less useful or ineffective ways we express forgiveness center themselves on fear: first is when we will forgive because we are afraid to lose the friendship or partnership, so we forgive too quickly . We forgive without ever expecting a change in the behavior of those who have hurt you… In other words, we are too damn easy on them, too ready to excuse someone’s behavior, and so we can find ourselves saying, “Oh, they couldn’t help it!” This attitude often allows the callous or the egotistical behavior to continue… It gives permission for the cycle of any form of abuse to go on and on…

The second self-defeating approach is found in the refusal to forgive- when we continue to rehearse the hurt, hold on to grudges, or refuse to move on emotionally from the slights and insults we all can receive over a lifetime…
From my Buddhist Tara teachings, I was given clear instruction that advises anyone who chooses to work towards enlightenment , towards greater emotional clarity, we must first personally encounter, and then we have to overcome the three great psychic poisons: Regret, Remorse, and Resentment. Holding on to these toxic feelings imprisons you, and ultimately can rob you of your health and your life! They can never serve growth, good, or grace… When we spitefully hold on to negative feelings, it is as if we continue to drink poison, and then expect the other person to get sick!

The two more positive ways combine a willingness to accept and then forgive with the clear expectation of behavioral reform, or true sense of contrition by the offending person.
The first way is simply known as Acceptance. Accepting what has happened to us, knowing what our role in this experience has been, and seeking understanding for both the offense and our reactions. The best response towards regaining our peace of mind, and a quietness of heart, is our willingness to let go of those feelings that can capture or control us….
and to know or realize that the path to our freedom is found by gaining the wisdom from the lessons learned, and it is made complete by having compassion for all who were involved… Then, taking what we know as our inner teacher, we can use that wisdom as our guide to moving past it or to getting on with our lives in ways that preserve our dignity, and keep us from being trapped into any repetitive patterns…
I know that it is often really difficult to grasp or accept the awful truth that we might never receive an apology, never genuinely hear “I am sorry”, but as long we have actually learned from the situation, we can consciously choose to let it go… In that conscious act of letting go, we can detoxify our hearts… Remember this insight: Acceptance does not excuse or forgive the abuser or the actions, but it does release the burdens from being stuck in our hearts and minds…
The last approach I would call Genuine Forgiveness.
It involves not holding a grudge, but it does clearly expect behavioral changes that can eventually restore trust, friendship, and intimacy. If those changes are not made, the relationship remains broken, and there is no complete or authentic sense of forgiveness to be found!
Forgiveness, as a personal healing process, is affirmed in one’s heart and it is recognized as something that is good, right, and true…
It is received by one’s conscience, or by inner moral compass, and it understood by our sense of justice and empathy. When Jesus’ disciples asked him how much or how often they were to forgive, he replied, “seventy times seven” or until your own perfection arrives! Only then are you allowed to cast stones or pass judgments. He knew that harsh judgments never improved anyone, and often they impeded change by the burden of anger or resentment. …
Yet, he did not offer an easy form or a blanket forgiveness that is without behavioral demands… Only with such an tough love stance, can lasting change ever take place. …

There is, in my understanding, a supernal, or a higher altruism that is also as a part of acceptance and forgiveness. There is a gracious synergy or a healing energy that is released when we truly forgive… Every time we forgive, we generate a quality of warmth that builds into a greater fire of compassion, and as we forgive, we give birth to a new transcending, loving force for good, that is more accessible to all humankind…
Like a grand fiery orange Phoenix that arises from the ashes of the ego, whose nest was filled with all the slights and sufferings we humans can experience, we can, through wisdom and grace, be propelled upward into a new flight, a new life!

Forgiveness renews our souls, as the ancient Jewish texts declare, we carried up on the wings of a great bird, that lifts itself from the ashes of despair, and begins to fly beyond any regrets to become enlivened, unburdened, and free! (Hebrew neshar)
In closing, let us remember this timeless, transcendent lesson from this Lenten season:
As we live, we must forgive…
As we love, we rise above…

And, so it is, that we gather on this Ash Wednesday night… To attend reverently to an ancient and powerful ritual that will work to anoint us with the holy promise of God that can release us from any guilt and pain, so that we can continue our lifelong flight towards integrity and wholeness, compassion, and peace…

Shalom & Shalem AMEN, So Be IT!

Selected Reading:
From a min-course in healing: Thoughts inspired from A Course In Miracles by Jerry Jamplowsky, MD.
“Whenever I see someone else as guilty, I am reinforcing my own sense of guilt or unworthiness…
I cannot truly forgive myself unless I am willing to forgive others… Only through forgiveness can my release from lingering guilt or fear be complete.
So today, let me choose to let go of all my past misconceptions and see myself and others in the light of true forgiveness.
I was mistaken in believing that I could give anyone anything other than what I wanted for myself…
Offering love is the only way I can accept love for myself.

The irreverent and anti-establishment psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz encapsulates the teachings of forgiveness in these pithy and declarative words:

The stupid neither forgive nor forget
The naive forgive, and forget
The wise forgive, but do not forget….

Children and Forgiveness:
When we are young, we learn from our parents…
When we are older, we judge their actions…
And when we are old enough, and wise enough, we learn to forgive them… . Adapted from Oscar Wilde

“[We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. Any of us who is devoid of the power to truly forgive, is also devoid of the power to truly love.
It is true that there is some good in the worst of us, and there is some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate, and more open to life and love.]” From Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lent: Giving up…What? To Get…What?

February 10, 2010 - 1:21 pm 105 Comments

Because so many present day seekers have come from other, more conservative and conventional churches when they were young, many of us have been exposed to the season of Lent as having a historical and theological significance. In our Western religious culture, one cannot escape at least a superficial acquaintance with its meaning and purpose.
Lent is a time often described as a time for increased piety, extra prayer and worship services, and self sacrifice. Historically, Christians and particularly those Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans who were required to abstain from certain practices, habits, or activities and most often were instructed to fast or abstain from eating certain foods.
Now, the ideal or best practices associated with the Lenten season can be summarized as attitudes that encouraged retreat from the world’s fast pace and demands. Then to take that freed up time, and focus it on becoming more contemplative, looking at those areas of your life that might need improvement or reform, and to focus of new insights that can help to release you from habits and fears. The noble ideal behind the food restrictions was to help us to break our attachments, addictions, and pleasures- any tie we had to external material rewards and egotistical routines. The goal of these Lenten disciplines was to make the Christian more properly ascetic: that is, more able to give up their problems, in order to receive or claim more freedom, becoming more willing to release ego preoccupations and spend time in discerning their next steps and what sources of inspiration and guidance were available to them in their lives.
Classically, it is from our souls being more disciplined or aligned with God that we are freed to practice more loving self acceptance and more intelligent self control. …
Now, among those of you who were made to observe Lent when you were growing up, did anyone ever satisfactorily explain it to you in that way? Is there any lasting value in Lenten observance for you now, as U-U’s? I will venture my own interpretation, and I will offer to try to provide you with a viable alternative.
First, a little religious background for all of you who were ever curious about what your Catholic and other high school friends were going through… Originally, Lent was a brief and intense time that prepared a person for Baptism. It was that soul-searching time before someone declared themselves a Christian in the early, and often persecuted Church. Considered to be a time for deep reflection and profound decision-making, it was a momentous step in a person’s life. This time of Lent was originally only 40 hours long, to reflect the time period between Good Friday and Easter morning. However, then it was a time of complete fasting, and a rigorous mental discipline.
This practice went through many historical changes. The principal one happening during the Middle Ages, when the time period for Lent was increased or prolonged to reflect a correspondence to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness. This extended time period was accompanied by a selected fast from meat and dairy products for all healthy people between the ages of 12 to 60; the only exceptions being nursing mothers. Unfortunately, or shall I say, predictably, this eclesial rule of a selected fast was dolefully interpreted as being a time for self-sacrifice and deprivation, rather than as a time associated with grateful remembrance and devotion.
The attitude of self deprivation, especially when enforced by a particularly dogmatic clergy and inflexible church structure has yielded some interesting and contradictory results. The most appealing begin the creation of of many preLenten revels, all-out parties, and celebrations… The most famous of these are French “Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras” or the Portuguese Rio Carnivale. … For you see, the words carnivore and carnival relate to the same kind of fleshly cravings and indulgences! Therefore, Mardi Gras and Carnavales were the reluctantly condoned revels or church-related orgies just before the days and weeks of required self-sacrifice. (Remember, the restriction of one’s diet is a common religious occurrence; for example, there are Kosher food laws, Islamic fasts during the month of Ramaden. Tragically, part of our misunderstanding of food practices has contributed sociological and psychologically in the development of dietary imbalances and psychological illnesses- from our society’s chronic pre-occupation over weight to the tragedies of bulimia and anorexia that are now affecting 20% of all young women (1 in 5) and is currently growing in older women (and in some men) being seen in increasing amounts in women of mid life Or ages 35-55…

I can remember meatless Wednesdays and Fridays all through my Catholic youth. At that time, I considered it quite a hardship, and its rationale was a perplexing, obtuse mystery. ( It was much later, when reading anecdotes in church history that I discovered that the Pope, in the 1800’s, instituted the eat fish laws in order to help out the Italian fishing industry!
These eating restrictions were was told to me as something we all have to do! I really did not like the idea at all, and I wasn’t a member of the Big Mac/Whopper generation of today! After all, my traditional fare of lentil beans, cornmeal, and some fish, no matter how nutritious, got a little boring, and even I could get tired of pasta! (When I was 10, My Father & Mother went off to an FBI school, so my Aunt Frances had to care for me feed me. Every Wednesday and Friday night she said that I could have my choice: I can have pasta and beans or beans and pasta! Story about the Statues around her home; St. Anthony; ; dialogues; turning him around! Also I have included a more serious and somber reflection on Ash Wednesday and Lent on my webpage)
So you see, the idea of Lent was related to me as a time to be endured, not understood. An almost morose pallor engulfed my family during the week. We all looked forward to the big Sunday meal, our weekly indulgence.
That was a big feast with all the chicken, sausage, and meatballs you could stuff in! Some quality religious observance that was!
One time, my family held a ravioli eating contest… I came in second, or first in the junior division, having eaten 48 raviolis (big squares!) Of course, there was a lot of Pepto Bismal in my future, as I could not eat another thing for the next two days!
When I look back on the prevalent family attitude, it was far from holy or reverent. Now, I find that it is all too ironic,that as an adult, I have sharply reduced my eating of any meat without any overtones of religious persuasion … but that would involve another sermon on world hunger, ecology, and proper nutrition…
Needless to say, much of the original intent, the symbolic and spiritually based reasoning behind Lent was never adequately explained, and that has resulted in generations of people playing out empty, self-defeating rituals. So I have had to ask myself, if there is any lasting value in Lenten remembrance for us today, if so, what might it be?

As I see it, the lasting principle found in a sincere Lenten observance is the time when each of us can reflect on having more personal motives and consequences, and the human need to learn greater objectivity and self control. Stripped of its pious baggage, Lent can become a time, for setting new priorities for one’s life, and for cultivating purposeful actions that free us from any negativity, and that assist us in accomplishing our higher goals.
Many of us who shared a similar dutiful childhood, and as a consequence, later, as adults, we have become religious liberals because we balk at the imposition of sanctions and limits, especially when enforced by some restrictive irrational and unexplainable moral code. However, when these disciplines are of your own devising, we can use them to focus our willpower and to develop greater inner peace and self-control. Rather than just going the way of all of our inner cravings, Lent can be a time to remedy or reduce these faulty inclinations all of us have, and we can apply ourselves to the task of greater self understanding.

I believe that every one of us has some demon or habit or character trait that is unflattering, that has to be faced and overcome. Therefore, because it is human and universal, there can be no judgment nor room for arrogance; no need for any lasting remorse or endless regret. Instead, Lent can be that personally bestowed gift of time and focus we give to ourselves to help us clarify and release the emotional or personal struggles any of us, and all of us might have.
In truth, we must, in some measure, agree or be willing to accept the consequences of some behavior in order to continue it. Even if that conduct is self-defeating, risky or unhealthy, we have to agree to it or else it would soon disappear. In that way, Lent is a time to reacquaint yourself with your own limits and to energize your own potentials and to begin positive steps towards growth, freedom, and greater awareness.
And yes, sometimes what we are faced with are issues and problems in our lives that are unsettling, awkward, and often damn difficult! Yet, that self admission is no grounds for being severe, hateful, or unkind toward yourself or any one else. These steps toward greater responsibility and freedom for one’s mind, body and spirit, for one’s health, relationships, and ideals, bringing us to of humility and to the advocacy of compassion. As Jesus put it, “Only those who are without sin can cast stones.”

As I see it, to live, is to be involved in a continual, evolutionary and ethical process, for each person has to deal honestly with their personal banes and come to know and be grateful for their individual blessings. Each of us has to understand how, or in what ways they might need to explore, change, or transform their lives.
I would propose two healthful measures that have been useful to me. They come from two diverse sources: from training in Gestalt therapy, and from training in Buddhist philosophy. The Gestalt or psychological format asks us to appraise our behavior patterns without censure. It simply states that we are to evaluate our feelings and actions by whether they are nourishing or toxic to us.
When behavior is nourishing, it give us dignity, awareness, understanding and self-respect. When because is toxic, then it is harmful to our self-esteem, our health, our families, to our well-being. I find that to be a simple and effective measure or standard to apply for greater self-awareness that is free of punitive conclusions and self righteous moral judgments.
The second guideline I would recommend is from Buddhist teachings. It emphasizes justice and sobriety, balance and the avoidance of excess; be it dietary, financial, relational, mental or physical. It states that we are to act without any feelings of self-denial nor act in ways that are self-indulgent. We are simply, to think ethically, act soberly, and speak broadmindedly. It emphasizes justice over judgment, equity over imbalance, moderation in thought, feeling and behavior. In this way, our tendencies and habits, problems and pressures, do not or will not control or victimize us. It can be summarized as this: That it our shared human need to establish inner personal guidelines so that we can overcome our actions that can lead to addiction- which is simply defined as the human tendency to try to get too much of what we don’t truly do not need.
This Lenten season, try to take some time each day to reflect on various virtues and principles you would like to see manifest in your lives. Then look at your lifestyle, your choices, your patterns for living and then try to notice if there is anything that could use some improvement, some further balance, some greater empathy and understanding.
Be willing to examine your goals- decide for a more positive, creative, and inspired approach to living. Maybe you can begin to keep a dream log, start a journal, or an exercise program, attend a class, or be aware of how your sacred intentions or prayers can bring new insights and empowerment to you with persistent progress.
And remember to begin soon, because according to the consensus of opinion in psychological circles, it takes at least three weeks to break a negative habit, establish new learning, or develop a lasting initiative that can span this Lenten season.

Lent can become a holy time- a gift your give to yourself as a time when you can discover who and what you are, and with inner guidance and grace, all that you can truly be.
Amen, So Be it!

Lenten Season Reflections & Stories

February 10, 2010 - 1:03 pm 45 Comments

Towards A New View of Lent:
Giving up what… to get… What?
Chalice Lighting:
There is a tale for Lent that comes from a far-off place… One day, the Devil decided to close up shop in a certain part of the world, and so he decided to hold a fire sale and an attitude auction. Some evil people were pleased to get his tools like fear, ignorance and prejudice and be able to play his infernal games at half price…
But one person seeking to be more spiritual and caring, wandered into the shop. Intensely curious, he looked around at all the tricks of deception and the tools of malice, until he spotted the quality on the highest shelf that had the highest price. Boldly, he asked the devil what that quality was, and why was it so expensive. The devil replied, “That is discouragement. Why is it so expensive? That’s simple. It’s my favorite. With the tool of discouragement, I can pry into any person or any group and cause all kinds of havoc and damage.”

Let us light the chalice this morning for hope, for compassion, for the courage to look deeply at ourselves. By not being discouraged by life’s challenges, we uncover the diamonds among the dust, to find new insights and opportunities, and learn how best to accept ourselves as being love-worthy, just, and kind.

Invocation/Opening Words:
Our religious world seems to governed by two kinds of people with two different attitudes; there are those who love only themselves, and then have a disdain for God or goodness, and there are those who love God or goodness, but depreciate themselves. In truth, we can only truly love and appreciate ourselves as we love and as we appreciate God or what is good. St. Augustine -adapted

Children’s presentation: Believe it, Achieve it!
How many of you know about Star Wars?
Here is a lesson from Luke Skywalker to each of you… In the Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke flies his X-wing star-fighter to a swampy planet on a personal quest. He landed safely, but his jet got stuck in the swamp and soon it started to sink. There he seeks out a Jedi master named Yoda to teach him all the secrets in becoming a Jedi warrior. Luke wants to free the galaxy from the oppression of the evil tyrant, Darth Vader.
Yoda reluctantly agreed to begin to train Luke and started by teaching him how to lift small rocks with his mind, just by thinking about them. Then, one day, Yoda instructed Luke to lift his space jet out of the swamp, where it had sunk. Luke complained that lifting rocks is one thing, but lifting his star-fighter is quite another matter! But Yoda insisted. Luke makes a quick valiant attempt, but fails in his attempt.
Yoda then focuses his mind, and lifts the star-fighter up out of the swamp with ease! Luke, being discouraged, exclaimed, ” How did you do that?” I don’t believe it!”
Yoda replied, “exactly. That’s why you couldn’t lift it yourself. You didn’t believe that you could.”

A Personal Lenten Remembrance : Ash Wednesday 1959
It was a damp, dreary and cold afternoon as I recall. Like many others, I knew we were dutifully on our way to church. It was a gray, late February day that was to begin another long Lenten season. It was Ash Wednesday, a somber day. We, the fearful and the faithful, assembled in the church, sitting in the foreboding shadows. Together, one could almost hear a dull, aching sigh come from our collective hearts. It was Lent; the time for inward sadness, a time when our spirits could become sullen and cold.
As I watched the others awaiting their turn to receive their mortal mark, I could feel the awkward tension, a deep desire among the people not to be there, yet there was this equally strong compulsion, a feeling of being riveted to this necessity and it s tradition.
Soon it was my family’s turn to kneel before the priest. Slowly, ever so reluctantly, each shuffled obediently up to the altar rail. People, feeling ever so small, wearing the lines of remorse and regret across their faces, knelt with apprehension. I began to hear the ominous words pronounced over each person as their foreheads were blackened with the charred ash of last year’s palms, to seal our human fate.

“Thou are dust,” The crucifix, the terse look on the priest’s face, the smell of ash in the damp chilly air, assaulted my senses and make my mind spin with questions. What was I to do? My indecision decided for me- an insistent nudge and I was before the priest.
Our eyes lock briefly in a severe stare. He stood over me and pronounced those awful words that hurt my ears. With a hard, cold imprint, he left a black smudge on my forehead- as a symbolic death mark within this time of self scrutiny and mourning. This was our mark of Cain, the imprint of our fleshly curse, all from a pessimistic church doctrine of control that enforced the belief that life must achieve death to allow the soul to be released from this all too weary world.

For a long while in my life, and before I sought to redeem and resolve those life experiences into the wisdom that would free me, because each Lenten season, I could easily recall those times of early anguish and negative emotional intensity. As I have worked to release myself in adulthood and provide others with new rituals that affirm positive meanings, I can begin to gain insight and value from the 40 days known as Lent. I am glad to be freed from any mandatory observances, and can welcome its arrival more each year as a time for thoughtful reflection, and a precious time when I could add to and deepen my self-understanding, personal growth and emotional healing.
Lent, this year, ends the wintry days of my soul. It begins to speak to me of new hopes, not far off. It is a time for preparing new beginnings, as surely as the Spring will soon emerge with its greening energy around me.
Yes, it is the time of Lent. …
May I continue to learn, ripen, deepen and discover more from it each year. May our collective hearts no longer groan, but become renewed through the message of becoming more soulful, compassionate and loving toward ourselves and others. Through reflection on our lives, Lent will help to make us ready for the next days of Spring, and living more fully in an increasing light.

Benediction/Closing Words:
Self-control- against which there is no law; for through having empathy and understanding of our needs and desires, and through a more calm, objective and invincible caring for ourselves and others, that which is best in us, that is truly good for us, can be attained and realized.
Meditations on being a Parish Priest