YOUR RETREAT IS WAITING...
EMBRACING THE MISSION OF THE DAUGHTERS OF DIVINE CHARITY TO MAKE GOD’S LOVE VISIBLE IN THE WORLD,THE ST. JOSEPH RETREAT CENTER FOSTERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE TOUCHED BY THAT LOVE. THE CENTER AND ITS SURROUNDINGS CREATE A WELCOMING SACRED SPACE WHERE GOD CAN BE ENCOUNTERED. IN A SPIRIT OF PEACE AND HOSPITALITY, WE PROVIDE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES THAT ENCOURAGE RETREATANTS TO MAKE THE LOVE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD VISIBLE TO THE WORLD.
Lent, February 14, 2024
The Key to Your Heart
"Return to me with your whole heart." Joel 2:12
Lent is the old English word for spring. In every other language the word comes from the root word meaning 40 days. Forty days of preparation for Easter. “We are an Easter people,” as St John Paul II said. Easter heralds the season of spring, rebirth and Resurrection. Today we begin 40 days to renew our relationship with Christ and have a spiritual rebirth. Lent is a time of conversion - a turning towards God- a conversion of heart. It is a time to think of our mortality and our life in eternity.
It is very appropriate that Lent falls on Valentine's Day this year. Valentine's Day is all about love, and hearts are everywhere. Where are we looking for love? Are we looking in the wrong places? God is love and we cannot truly love ourselves or others if we do not know Him and love him. He is the source of life.
In the first reading in the book of Joel we hear "return to me with your whole heart". Not just our “heart” but our "whole" heart. This means no holding back. It is a call to surrender to God and to be open to his love and mercy. To pour ourselves out before Him and to bring Him our brokenness and pain so He can fill us with His grace and healing.
The Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and alms giving are not meant as a punishment but are ways we can make room for Him in our hearts. Sacrifice means to make holy. Christ can soften and open our hearts through these spiritual practices. “Heart speaks to heart” was the motto of St. John Henry Newman. This involves listening as well as refocusing our attention to what matters.
Are we focused on Him? Does He "order our life" and is He our priority? These are the questions to ask during Lent. What is blocking you from breaking open your heart to allow Christ in? What attachments, distractions, addictions, or fears do you have? Any "sin" which is really selfishness and pride blocks us from loving God and others.
I have decided this Lent not to agonize about what I should give up. Instead, I will focus on adding to my spiritual life and growing closer to Christ and deepening my relationship with Him. Some key ideas I have are to read a good spiritual book, attend a retreat, spend time in adoration or in front of the Blessed Sacrament, ministering at the Church, doing a daily Examen so I am more self-aware, practice gratitude, and see the choices I made in the light of the Holy Spirit.
I will ask,” Has that choice brought me closer or further away from Jesus?” Of course, I am not advocating doing everything on this list, especially not in any given day. Remember quality over quantity. See what resonates with you.
This Lent, find the key to unlock your whole heart. Let Him in, close the door and never let Him go- He will never let you go.
Sister Barbara Ann Gondek Come, see and experience why the Upper Room is an important sacred space on our faith journey. We will join Jesus and the Twelve. We will…