Sunday, March 23, 2014

Different Thoughts on Lent

Dear Ladies,

I have been working hard on this latest blog. Honest! I have been writing, citing sources and editing. I have been contemplating kenosis, death, suffering, and holy week. And what have I come up with? A lot of interesting academic work that probably nobody wants to read. I have been discussing how kenosis and suffering have been used to keep women and the poor and oppressed in their place. I have been writing about how oppression is contrary to the will of God. Then a good friend sent a link from another theology blog, Experimental Theology, which ably discussed the same thing. Well.

Then I got to thinking about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. This is where Jesus emptied Himself so that God could enter: Kenosis. (Our kenotic relationship with God only merits a small 'k': kenosis.) If we were to see Jesus suffer and sweat blood, would our first thought be "what are the socio-economic implications?" I hope not. Our thoughts should be along the lines of "how can we alleviate the suffering?" Most likely we would be like to disciples, focused on our own pain.

Now I'm not trying to say that wrongful use of theology isn't worth talking about. I'm just saying that there comes a point when we walk the path or we don't. It's time to walk the path.

So, what did Jesus ask us to do? He asked us to sit with Him in his suffering. Just sit there with Him. Strange to think that our mere presence is pleasing to God, isn't it?

Have you ever taken the time to wonder what Jesus would say to you if you were to ask "Lord, what are you doing? Can you teach me to open myself to God as you do?" I think He would probably say something like this:

Be who you are.
Let the rest go.
Allow God to enter.

Obviously this isn't an easy thing to do. Jesus sweat blood. He was there for hours. AND He already had practice living a life totally reliant on God. Notice that the difficulty isn't in becoming somebody different or fulfilling a role imposed on you. The difficulty lies in accepting who you are and letting everything else go.

Luckily, God has given us aids along the way. What pops immediately to mind is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession. I love going to adoration because all you do is sit there quietly and be yourself. The fact that Jesus is there is an added bonus.

Confession is a whole other matter. A few weeks ago I wouldn't have bothered writing about it. Why? Because, well, it's complicated. Suffice it to say my childhood was really, really messed up (as many sadly are) and for many years I didn't know which way was up, much less worry about sins. Then later I didn't want to hear how terrible I was. (I was often told by my mother that I was a whore, a failure, and an idiot. I was none of those.) I just didn't think I could bear any more criticism just for existing.

But a few weeks ago I went. By the time I got to the confessional I was shaking. By the time I sat down I was bawling my eyes out. Name my sins? Forget about it! I nearly ran out of there! But the priest was kind and compassionate. He told me that God loves me and that I am enough. Obviously I know that. I've been writing about it for years. I've been telling that to others. And yet I was so afraid. Nay, terrified.

When I left I felt like a new person. I was giddy in love because my love was returned.

I'm only writing this because I think people can get funny ideas about church and religion. For me, if it's not practical it's useless. I just want people to know that there are things that have existed for millenea to help us grow in faith. These are the things that say "all life has value - regardless of past mistakes and weaknesses. You are important. You are irreplaceable to God and to others." We are told over and over again that these things are put in place to control us. Maybe others used these things to control and abuse. But those particular voices live in fear. I have lived too much of my life in the fear of my own inadequacies. Am I perfect? Far from it. The idea is laughable. But I can tell you that when enough people who believe in the salvific power of love get together, it changes the world. Ask the ancient Romans. Ask the Soviet Union about Pope John Paul II's  trip to Poland. Ask why Christian churches all over the world are being targeted.

All because you have worth. All you have to do is claim it.

Be who you are.
Let the rest go.
Allow God to enter.

May God continue to bless you!

This entry is dedicated to The Lovely Claire. I hope you like it.