Welcome to my Lenten reflection for the third week of Lent. (To view previous reflections refer to the Lenten Retreat 2009.)
Each week’s reflection is drawn from a chapter of Days of Deepening Friendship. While it is not necessary to read these chapters to participate, it will likely enhance your experience.
This week’s reflection is based on Chapter 23.
Let’s get started.
View this week’s video reflection:
Listen to this week’s audio reflection: Third Week of Lent: “Where is the Holy Spirit in this conversation?”
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:34
A person can be skilled, well-educated, and endowed with the IQ of a genius. But all of these do not wisdom make. Wisdom is but one result when the Holy Spirit dwells in a person to merge with natural ability and spiritual openness. As we journey through the remainder of this Lenten season, we can sharpen our awareness of the Spirit’s work in our lives.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Advocate, one who would help us. How does this help appear in the midst of our Lenten prayers and meditations? For one thing, the Spirit helps us pray, communicating our needs to God the Father, even when we don’t know what or how to pray.
The Holy Spirit also helps us remember what we have already learned on our spiritual journey. When we read Scripture or pray the Rosary or sit in silence, the Holy Spirit helps us pull together the various pieces of experience so that we can perceive the larger story of faith.
And the Holy Spirit moves through our very being, working with our emotions, ideas, and intuition. In some mysterious way, God within us communicates with God beyond us. We receive help in expressing our prayers, and we also receive God’s response to those prayers.
So we can approach our Lenten devotions in an attitude of hope and confidence. We know that our prayers, however muddled or distracted, will be translated to heaven as precisely the prayers we need to express. And we know that God will attend to those prayers and respond to us.
It might help if we think of the Holy Spirit as our story keeper. Most of us keep scrapbooks and mementos, and we remember the stories our grandparents told and pass them on to the next generation. We cherish the memories and review the events through journals and photographs. This is not much different from what the Holy Spirit does in our individual lives and in the community of faith. All the important pieces are saved, and the conversations are preserved. And with every remembrance, our faith and wisdom grow and mature.
This is what it means to be part of the kingdom of God; we live in the larger story, and in the process we learn that story, one scene after another.
A Spiritual Exercise for This Week
The Holy Spirit sometimes speaks to us through others, such as a favorite teacher or a wise older woman you trust completely. Imagine you are in conversation with this person. Find a place to go two or three times this week where you and this person can sit and talk.
During one of these talks, take out an imaginary scrapbook that is the history of your life with God. Linger on particular events or memories.
During another conversation, try to describe the many ways that prayer expresses itself in your life: traditional prayers or those in your own words, songs you sing or music you hum, tears or laughter, sighs or silence. Identify the many feelings represented in these prayers, and also the many desires.
During another conversation, dwell on a specific passage of Scripture. It could be a favorite psalm or one of the Lectionary readings for the week. Ask your wise friend questions about this Scripture. Explain what that Scripture means to you and why.
I invite you to post your comments and questions and I will respond throughout the week. I will also be available every Wednesday from 10 am-Noon CST to communicate with you in real time. Don’t forget to join me next week (I’ll send a reminder).