On this First Sunday of Lent, I would like to share with you a meditation from Henri Nouwen, one of my go-to authors whose spirituality I admire very much. The following meditation will take some time to understand, so I ask that after reading this, you please take a few quiet moments to allow these words to digest. My hope is that it will help us all ground our Lenten journey more deeply in Christ. It’s entitled: “Centering My Life on God.”
“What is central to me is: I exist! However, as soon as (I also) say: “God exists!” my existence can no longer remain in the center. This is because the essence of the knowledge of God reveals my own existence as deriving its total being from God’s. This is the true conversion experience (of heart). I no longer let my existence be the center from which I derive, project, deduct or intuit the existence of God. I suddenly or slowly find my own experience revealed to me in and through the knowledge of God. Then it becomes real for me that I can love myself and my neighbor only because God has loved me first. The life-converting experience is not the discovery that I have choices to make that determine the way I live out my existence, but the awareness that my existence itself is not the center. Once I “know” God, that is, once I experience God’s love as the love in which all human experiences are anchored, I can desire only one thing: to be in that love.” (Henri Nouwen)
In my humble opinion our Lenten journey, our penitential practices, our almsgiving whatever they may be, should steer us in the direction Henri Nouwen is trying to lead us. This requires me to set aside any pre-occupation with self, remove myself from the center stage of existence, and allows God to be the source and focus of all that is real! This was the desert experience of Jesus which led him to his healing, public mission and to die and rise on the cross! May your Lenten journey be truly patterned after that of Christ!
Fr. LeRoy Scheierl
· As part of our Lenten journey you are invited to pick up the meditation booklet “Renew Our Hearts” in the entrances of the church.
· Join our parish communities and Catholic communities across the United States in a life-changing Lenten journey with CRS Rice Bowl also available in the church entrances. What you give up for Lent changes lives.