Friday, February 08, 2008

"Attacking our weakness"

Stations of the Cross tonight, 7 pm, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. All are invited!!
The following is a spiritual reflection (2/15/98) by Msgr Wells as found in his book, “From the Pastor’s Desk”:

I know some people who look forward to the coming of Lent with a sense of anticipation – even of joy. They look forward to the Church’s invitation to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to give them a spiritual shot in the arm. Not me! I see that Lent begins in ten days, on Ash Wednesday, and I groan within. Not for me the call to penance and self-denial. However, whether received with joy or dread, this great season of grace is upon us. In the days before Vatican II, there were three weeks of preparation for Lent, where Catholics were encouraged to decide how they were going to observe the season. The Church, wisely, wanted to encourage people to take advantage of these six weeks in the desert with the Lord.

Lent is of greatest value when it attacks our weakness. Hence, a few suggestions based on my limited observations of life in Bethesda. First of all, in what might seem to turn the call to fasting upside down, let our families resolve to eat together each day, with the television off! Few things more rip my heart out than asking our 2nd graders how they eat dinner and hear how many of them eat alone, in their rooms, in front of televisions. How are faith and family passed on; how do we combat the isolation of our society, if not at the dinner table? I surely am a great believer in fasting (much as I do not like it), but many, I believe, must fast from the TV dinners that, literally, live up to their names.

Following Jesus is hard! Picking up a cross and carrying it toward a share in crucifixion goes against the grain. Even the Lord Himself dropped his Cross three times. The crosses we choose for ourselves during Lent should remind us of how weak is our commitment; they should attempt to attack with some vigor areas of weakness in our lives. The person who sees a possible addiction to work that affects family relationships should attack that addiction; the person who is tight with money, using any excuse to avoid giving it away, should dramatically commit to fighting that self-sufficiency that we think money can guarantee. The person who has heard friends and family make the comment, “You’ve always got to be right,” should begin the painful process of examining pride and a competitive spirit and recognize that is tough to need God if I am always right.

Finally, we must resolve to take seriously the call to prayer. For many of us, the things of God are not first in our lives. I knew God was important to my parents because they taught me to pray and because they often talked about the things of God. If only an Our Father and a Hail Mary at the time of grace, we must begin to pray as families. Individually, many of us can participate in the only perfect prayer, daily Mass. We can take the first ten minutes of our daily commute to say the Rosary. We can open the Bible and meet Jesus in the Gospels. And, most especially, in this season of repentance, we must plan to take advantage of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and go to confession.


At 12:49 PM, Blogger fran said...

Something to think about-

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament from "An Hour with Jesus," prayer book.

"How should we praise You, Jesus? In your humility and love for us You choose to be present to us in this hidden form. It doesn't allow for a lot of fanfare, does it? But then again Your whole life wasn't built around any fanfare. It just seems that the whole world should be more aware of Your presence here. Shouldn't all come in praise and adoration? You are their Saviour. How can we praise You enough, Lord?

What if it was the President that was actually here? Would this building be filled? Or a great movie star? Or a professional athlete? Or even the Pope? Would crowds jam the building? Would the media be here, cameras rolling? And yet - those are only people! You are our Saviour, Our Lord. And only a few come! Why?

Dear Jesus! How incredibly indifferent and fickle we are! How little our faith. If You announced You were coming here in person, visible to all, no structure could hold the crowds. Every nation in the world would respond, every form of media would be a mere instrument of communication in Your hands. All would bow-and kneel-and sing, and ask for blessings, healing, more forgiveness. They would come-if they could see You.

The mystery of Your sovereign existence Lord! The mystery of Your actually suffering death for us, of Your forgiveness, Your love. And still You choose to meet us in this hidden, humble form! How do we respond to You?"

At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found it refreshing to see so many new faces, families and yes, cell phones... (Grrr) at tonight's Stations of the Cross and Adoration. I find Adoration to be a time for quiet internal reflection, revealing our gifts, challenges and blessing offered by our Lord. Reverence to the Stations adds all the more intensity to our gracious Lord's mission. I hope the new faces walked away with peace, hope, and an understanding of the genuine, never ending love Jesus has for us. Powerful stuff. An hour well spent with no time for a yawn. Please come again:)

At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Maryann said...

A light hearted reflection on prayer. It can work in ways you least expect.

I was blessed to be married by Fr. Wells some 20+ years ago while he resided at St. Andrew’s. In the few short hours we interacted with him, (we flew in from Texas for a few days and then flew back), we had more than one good laugh. Some 20+ years later, I still remember the three points he emphasized as the two of us began our life together. I hang on to those concepts when the waters get rough. This alone should speak of his talent as a priest, not to mention his wonderful sense of humor.

I periodically read excerpts from his spiritual reflections in The Pastor’s Desk, and found thoughts from his Oct 11, 1998 entry on prayer curious. He mentions that every car should have a rosary in it. I took his advice, placed a rosary in each of the cars and it came in real handy.

I had to pick up two of my kids in Baltimore, one at the bus stop and one at the airport, both of which are only a few exits apart. As I left home, I was really upset about something and the tears were flowing,at a good clip I might add, not a good mind set to be driving in. So, I thought to myself, grab the rosary Father Wells said to tuck in your car and start praying. With time, the prayers worked. My anxiety, weakness and lack of faith decreased to a point that I drove right by my exit, by not just one, but several. Through prayer, I had better things on my mind. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself and I’m pretty sure he had a good laugh as well. I had a wonderful ride home with my kids. My weakness/concern expressed through fear and tears, all generated from my lack of faith were settled. Thanks FW. Prayer works, sometimes in odd ways, but it works. Just make sure you pay attention to the exits if you’re praying while you’re driving!

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question-
I went to a Methodist service and there was a gathering afterwards. There were many of different faiths in attendance there. The preacher was making his rounds among the people, and people were addressing him a “Father.” Why would he be addressed that way? I thought only priests were addressed as “Father.”

I was asking about this when my family was together recently, and a funny conversation ensued. My cousin’s wife (who is Jewish) told me that she wouldn’t address a priests as Father b/c he wouldn’t be that to her. I said that I thought addressing someone by their proper title wouldn’t necessarily be a sign of her deference to their holy post as much as it’d be a simple sign of respect for how they ask to be addressed. But then I thought about my Methodist experience. I didn’t call that preacher “Father” in part b/c I though he was mistakenly called that (there were many Catholics there), but also because he wouldn’t be that to me either. But my question remains- are only those who have been ordained as priests properly addressed as “Father?”

At 1:47 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon, with the question about the title of "Father"...

Your question was interesting, so I did a little online research for the two of us. It seems that 200 to 300 years ago, the title "Father" was used by American Protestants, American Methodists and American Lutherans. By the mid-19th century, Protestants began dropping the title, due to a literal interpretation of Matthew 23:9
( (

By the 1920's only Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and some Episcopal clergy were using the title.

Thanks for the lesson!


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