Already, yesterday and again today, in the Order of the Present Moment: God unfolds Lent. It is God Who chooses, Who controls, Who plans and unfolds Lent. God does so individually, uniquely, and collectively.
The other day, after a letter from my spiritual father as well as an ensuing dream in which he was counseling me, I decided to find EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) on my laptop (this hermit's little window to the temporal world). I watched a bit, and a sense of sadness at times, and even mournfulness, caused my mind and heart to ponder aspects of the past and present.
Was the mournfulness a result of what I was viewing, or was it an aspect of passage of earthly time, or could it have to do with a shift in programming and current status, perhaps the result of decline in enthusiasm, etc.?
I also considered my role and to what praying God calls me in the present moment. Recently I've prayed much for our country, our world, as well as individual struggles as noticed on news reports and in short video clips and headlines. The secular media provides plenty of prayer reminders, specifically and in general topics. It seems a good thing to pray for such intentions.
Yet, I questioned again, within myself, the source of the sense of mournfulness that surfaced when I viewed more of the EWTN programming. And by yesterday, I had an answer.
The mournfulness, for the most part, was my own. It had to do with past memories--bittersweet, at that. The bitter revolved around a time period in my Catholic life progression in which an apostolate--a ministry--that the Virgin Mary had directed me in a dream to organize and lead--had me suffer one of the most painful (I thought) ousting from that which I so loved guiding and helping along to much success for those in need of a touch of love. It was a soup kitchen that evolved into much more. Yet the devil got involved, and I had to go in order for the fury to subside.
The sweet aspects included, in my needing to lay low under the guidance of my spiritual father at the time, discovering EWTN programming. At the time, I needed to rent and subscribe to DISH television, and I had a television by which I could learn and grow through the various EWTN programs, in addition to spiritual reading on my own.
The bitterness of loss of what had been an exciting and successful focus of my love and efforts was thus filled with the many positives of the Catholic Church as seen through the various guests and information, the saint movies, the Scripture studies, the spiritual guidance, the music and prayers offered from a television network begun by a Catholic nun and staffed by many with donations coming in from all over the world.
So returning after many years of not having a television set nor cable, and not realizing EWTN would now be live-streamed on internet, I sensed a shift in momentum that equated, at first, as mournfulness. And yes, the mournfulness for the most part was mine and not due to changes in the network programming or presentation.
Yesterday, I happened to peak again and found broadcasting some lenten reflections by some priests of the Missionaries of the Poor. Then later I noticed a fairly recent movie of the saints Francis and Clare. I also discovered a priest who'd had a program years ago, continuing his program, yet current--recognized him despite aging. And if he could see me through the screen, he'd not probably recognize me due to my aging beyond the usual. Ah, the way temporal hardships and pain can age us!
I still find the tone heard in the recitation of prayers to be rather somber, if not mournful. And again, the mournfulness is how they affect me subjectively. And I am now certain this is due to my own suffering and struggles currently, in the present moment. I have more than enough so seek relief from the somber, the mournful, even though I realize life can be quite serious, grievous, sorrowful.
Others viewing may not find it so at all! And in the passage of time and the phases of our spiritual progression in life, we ought not be in the same mode with the same needs and desires that we had a dozen years or more ago. The Lord unfolds our lives; we merely flow along with the Holy Spirit as best we can, if we desire to flow and not restrict Him.
And all this leads me to consider that I've come to not place specific goals for myself for Lent. I used to, in my innocent, well-intentioned yet naive arrogance. I came to discover that my goals are much like temporal goals. I offer as fact the goals of this past week that I'd have the stairwell drywall mudded in two or three days. It's been five days, and I'm still at it although yesterday had to run errands in civilization for more supplies--costly ones, at that, requiring yet more faith in God's providence.
Already, since Ash Wednesday just four days ago, the Lord has unfolded His chosen Lent for me in typical Order of the Present Moment fashion. He's shown me a thing or two or many about mournfulness, penthos, contrition, repentance, and the joy of His salvation. He's given me new areas of physical pain that moderate what I can "do" or "not do" each day. The Lord reminded me to let go of past enthusiasms and also the bitter memories in order to see the sweetness of this present moment, in which the sun unexpectedly is shining now when instead overcast and sleet was to be.
God plans and provides my Lenten sacrifices and Lenten lessons. He points to what I should view and read, and also what I need to be listening to within my mind and heart--and in the night time when distractions are mostly wiped away, He provides visitors in my dreams.
Last night, there was quite a visit and sharing with a dear friend of the past, some 11 or 10 years ago passed onto the other side. Oh, Virginia, loving friend of my heart and soul! I'm yet pondering with loving awe but also asking the potential prayer needs of this woman or her family, the latter yet on this earth as far as I know I'm also asking the Lord to reveal any aspects of myself with my departed friend, in this fifth day of the current Lent, in which I must make amends. He's shown me my dereliction already; and immediately I prayed an apology to Virginia so close beyond the thin veil.
I read a few more pages of St. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs, yesterday; and I realized that my lack of spiritual reading is due to the tremendous physical strain in the manual labor these days. Thus, the current prayer intentions revolve around the bits and pieces of laptop secular news clips--and now also the needs and topics brought forth by the Catholic Church's televised network whether or not some programs are current with my spiritual present moment. They are necessary and good for someone's spiritual present moment, and for these I pray and rejoice.
I have no idea right now what the Lord will unfold in this first Sunday of Lent. I hope to listen to a Lenten reflection on EWTN later on, perhaps during a rest break in which I will ice my right elbow and right hand. (The right, upper bodily appendage is so painful from carpentry overuse! I do remind myself that Jesus and His dad were on earth, carpenters and workers with stone and some kind of mortar, which then reminds me of the drywall mudding to be done in Te Deum Hermitage!)
What I do know, is that even if I tell the Lord what I intend to read or pray or sacrifice or do in a positive, additional effort of love of Him in Himself, and love of others as He loves--none of my plans and goals can begin to compare to what He has planned for me in this present Lent. So I will "do" something that has not been easy for me to do, and that is to let go of my own notions, to stop jumping in to lead. I will submit and follow, which requires being attentive to God in the present moments of His Lent--for Lent is Jesus Christ's Lent, and I am but a guest on His program.
God's Lent is not mournful, at least not for me this day in His Lent which becomes our Lent, together. Reverent, somber, serious, repentant, humble--yes, I suppose so. But I am noticing His Living Word is filled with much joy in His salvation and reminders to not think or talk so much but to act, even if interior movement, in positive and lovingly helpful manner for my and others' souls.
God bless His Real Presence in us as God unfolds His Lent through us, and us who remain in His Love!