Help for the Journey

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We each received a beautiful book for Laetare Sunday, a little Lenten gift to help us on the journey: Meditations for Lent by Bishop Bossuet.  Can’t say we’ve read much of him before, but his writings are lyrical and poetic, and it’s easy to see why he has been compared to St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom.

There’s a beautiful meditation for each day of Lent, and we just wanted to share a little bit from Sunday’s reading:

…It is with respect to the life of Christian righteousness that St. Paul says, “and your life is hidden.”  Set free from human judgment, we should count as true only what God sees in us, what he knows, and what he judges.  God does not judge as man does.  Man sees only the countenance, only the exterior.  God penetrates to the depths of our hearts.  God does not change as man does.  His judgment is in no way inconstant.  He is the only one upon whom we should rely.  How happy we are then, and how peaceful!  We are no longer dazzled by appearances, or stirred up by opinions; we are united to the truth and depend upon it alone.

I am praised, blamed, treated with indifference, disdained, ignored, or forgotten; none of this can touch me.  I will be no less than I am.  Men and women want to play at being a creator.  They want to give me existence in their opinion, but this existence that they want to give me is nothingness.  It is an illusion, a shadow, an appearance, that is, at bottom, nothingness.  What is this shadow, always following me, behind me, at my side?  Is it me, or something that belongs to me?  No.  Yet does not this shadow seem to move with me?  No matter:  it is not me.  So it is with the judgments of men:  they would follow me everywhere, paint me, sketch me, make me move according to their whim, and, in the end, give me some sort of existence.  But in the end, I know it well:  this is only a flickering light that takes me from one side or the other, that lengthens, shortens, swells, or shrinks the shadow that follows me, that makes it appear in various ways and disappear without my gaining or losing anything of my own.  And what is this image of myself that I see reflected in the flowing stream?  It blurs and erases itself; it disappears when the water is stirred up, but what have I lost?  Nothing but a useless amusement.  So it is with the opinions and judgments men form according to their lights;  Alas, not only do I amuse myself with them as with a game; I stop, and I take them for something serious and true, and this shadow, this fragile image troubles me and makes me anxious, and I believe myself to be losing something.  But I am disabused of this error.  I am content with a hidden life.  How peaceful it is!  Whether I truly live this Christian life of which St. Paul speaks, I do not know, nor can I know with certainty. But I hope that I do, and I trust in God’s goodness to help me.

Hope this little nugget helps you on your Lenten pilgrimage!

 

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