Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
I’ve just gotten back from giving a parish mission at Sacred Heart in La Plata, and I am enthused about the quality of Catholic families that I see in our Archdiocese. I’ll just give a brief synopsis of what I based my talks on.
I focused on three landscapes of Lent, and how they apply to our spiritual lives. The first scene is the desert (1st Sunday of Lent), where Jesus fasts and combats Satan for 40 days. Most of our spiritual lives are spent in this phase of the spiritual life, called the purgative stage. Here we fight our disordered inclinations and struggle to love as God loves.
The second scene is on Mount Tabor (2nd Sunday of Lent), where Jesus is transfigured in the presence of three of his apostles. This second stage of the spiritual life is called illumination. It is marked by the freedom and joy of loving, when we discover the person of Jesus Christ. As our relationship with him takes on more centrality in our spiritual lives, we glimpse his brilliance, his power, and our desire is more and more to receive his life.
The third scene is Golgotha (Good Friday), the site of the crucifixion. This stage is marked by the all-consuming love of God. We’ve moved from the struggle to love, to the freedom to love, to the all-embracing and consuming union of love. This stage can only be tasted through the cross of Christ. Here suffering and love are intimately united.
Interestingly, the desert, the mountain and Golgotha are all present at the Mass. We begin the Mass with the Penitential Rite, in which we acknowledge our sinfulness and need for a Savior (the desert). The Liturgy of the Word is the Illuminative stage, where the Scriptures speak to us of the preeminence and centrality of the person of Jesus Christ. He is the definitive revelation of God, the face of God’s love for fallen humanity (Mt. Tabor). Then we come to the consecration of the Eucharist and holy Communion (Golgotha), where Christ’s unique sacrifice is made present for us here and now.
This is an all-too-brief description of what I reflected on with the parishioners of Sacred Heart. I pray that the Spanish Men’s and Women’s retreats, as well as the parish mission given by Fr. Jack have helped us as parish family to prepare for the full revelation of God’s love and glory come Holy Week.