Thursday, February 19, 2015

God, Country, and Fr. Benedict Groeschel

Many good people ask me:  What can I do personally to come closer to God, to Christ?  Then almost despondently they ask: What can be done to restore morality, faith, human dignity, family values, respect for life, and Christian hope and charity to our de-Christianized world?  Even though religion and faith still occupy an important place in our society, they are obviously losing ground.  Devout members of the Church wonder what can be done to restore Christian education, renew the clergy and religious life, and inspire the laity.
A serious reading of Church history --- a story of growth and decline and growth again, of fervor followed by apathy and, surprisingly, by reform and renewal --- gives us a resounding answer to all these questions.  The solution lies in personal prayer, a real, substantial commitment of individuals to prayer.
            --- The King Crucified and Risen, by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
As Lent 2015 begins, I think the above words from the Introduction to Fr. Groeschel’s book of daily Lenten meditations can serve as an adequate reminder of the shape of this world, OUR WORLD, and what we can begin to do about it.
“Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return” (Gn 3:19).  Those words, heard on Ash Wednesday, were first spoken by God to Adam, after he had sinned in the Garden of Eden.  They were God’s reminder of a coming death, the wages of sin.  I wonder:  Looking the world situation, what words do you think God would be speaking today --- to us?
Every day the headlines shout of another slaughter of Christians, around the world --- around THE WORLD!  Do we think that somehow we are not part of that world?  Do we think the slaughter cannot come here to our cities, to our churches, to our family?  I had dreams of such an event last night.  Fr. Groeschel calls for a real, substantial commitment to individual prayer --- your prayer --- as a solution to the horrors of the world.  Is that horror coming home, here in America, what it would take to get you on your knees?  Will you be looking on your I-phone at pictures of  yet another slaughter and notice those souls lying in their own blood, who will never kneel in prayer again.  And will you, in your horror, realize you know them?
These Lenten meditations and prayers of Fr. Groeschel’s book are an excellent place to begin praying. It’s never too late.  It does and will make a difference --- in the world.  Lent is a time for repentance of our sins, and of change.  The world needs to change; it starts with us.
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As I walked into the adoration chapel late last night, its starkness shouted out to me.  Gone were the flowers and plants and many special gifts, placed there as witness to prayers of petition, or thanksgiving.  Gone were the bright colors and the beautiful smells.  What remained were four stately candlesticks, two on each side of the large gold monstrance in the middle, with its large host at the center.
This is Jesus’ Lenten home, stark and bare.  In a way, He too has begun a Lenten penance.  As I looked at the bareness and at the lone other adorer in the chapel, the clock struck the midnight hour:  Ash Wednesday and Lent had begun.  With all that seemed missing in the chapel so starkly obvious, I didn’t quite know how to begin to pray, and so I blurted out, aloud:  “Well Lord, at least I’m here.”
I don’t know if He smiled, but I did get the feeling that He welcomed the company.  And in the bareness of the room, He could focus on me, and I on Him.  And I think He would like to focus on you also, were you to drop by for a visit, in a room with no distractions --- just He and you.
He waits.  What will it take for you to finally get on your knees?

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