according to Fr. Jacques Philippe (who you can meet and hear live THIS TUESDAY, March 21 in DC. Register here). In his beautiful book, Interior Freedom, Fr. Philippe goes on to say:
“Most of our fears and apprehensions turn out to be completely imaginary. Difficulties we anticipated become very simple in reality; and the real difficulties are things that didn’t occur to us. It’s better to accept things as they come, one after another, trusting that we will have the grace to deal with them at the right time, than to invent a host of scenarios about what may happen--scenarios that normally turn out to be wrong. The best way to prepare for the future is to put our hearts into the present. In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples they will be hauled before tribunals, and then he adds: ‘Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate before hand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.’ (Luke 21:14-15.) Projecting our fears into the future cuts us off from reality and prevents us from dealing with the present situation as we should. It saps our best energies…Fear of suffering, as we’ve seen, causes more pain than suffering does. We need to live accordingly.”
Grace comes in the moment. We are recipients of grace and are called to be extensions of God’s grace to others.
In pondering The Way of the Cross, we see in station V and VI that Jesus meets two individuals who help Him to bear His burden and give Him comfort in His suffering. I particularly like Clarence Enzler’s “Everyone’s Way of the Cross” and what he writes about these two stations:
Station V: Simon Helps Jesus
My strength is gone;
I can no longer bear the cross alone.
And so the legionnaires
Make Simon give me aid.
This Simon is like you, my other self.
Give me your strength.
Each time you lift some burden from another’s back,
You lift as with your very hand
The cross’s awful weight
That crushes me.
Lord, make me realize
That every time I wipe a dish,
Pick up an object off the floor,
Assist a child in some small task,
Or give another preference
In traffic or the store;
Each time I feed the hungry,
Clothe the naked,
Teach the ignorant,
Or lend my hand in any way--
It matters not to whom--
My name is Simon.
And the kindness I extend to them
I really give to you.
Station VI: Veronica Helps Jesus
Can you be brave enough, my other self,
To wipe my bloody face?
Where is my face, you ask?
At home whenever eyes fill up with tears,
At work when tensions rise,
On playgrounds, in the slums,
The court, the hospitals, the jails--
Wherever suffering exists__
My face is there.
And there I look for you
To wipe away my blood and tears.
Lord, what you ask is hard.
It calls for courage and self-sacrifice,
And I am weak.
Please give me strength.
Don’t let me run away because of fear.
Lord, live in me
And act in me
And love in me.
And not in me alone--in all of us--
So that we may reveal
No more your bloody but your glorious face
“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40
Thank You for giving grace so freely to me every minute of every day. I never know where it will come from. I just know that it will come if I commit my ways and entrust them to You. I want to see your face in all of those I make contact with daily. Help me to be an extension of the grace I receive from You, allowing it to fill me to overflowing, bubble up and spill on to all I meet. Open my eyes, my ears and my heart to Your cries for help...even if they are silent cries. And through this, may we be more closely united in all ways.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Need Inspiration for Lent? Try these beautiful spiritual readings:
*Come see Fr. Jacques Philippe LIVE in DC- March 21-Rsvp here.
*Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe
*Searching For and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe
*In the School of the Holy Spirit by Fr. Jacques Philippe
The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander
Into Your Hands, Father by Wilfrid Stinissen
Into the Deep by Dan Burke
Meeting God in the Upper Room by Monsignor Peter Vaghi
Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Heidi Hess Saxton
Hearts on Fire, Praying with Jesuits by Michael Harter, SJ