come to me, and i will fill your heart

FullSizeRender(6)Well, after a few weeks of browsing and prayers of gratitude to the devil (um, amazon) who tempts me with his two day shipping, I have finally selected our Lenten Readalong book: From Ash to Water: Meditations on Lent.

I chose this book because it walks us through the forty day lenten journey, with readings that actually follow the lectionary.  So . . . Nothing extra to read!  That’s always a plus for me.  You’ll learn more about the meaning of Lent and you’ll be invited to reflect on the daily readings and respond with meditation and prayer.  Another plus: No huge projects or scary probing psychological inquiries designed to speed you along on the path to sainthood.  Just quiet reflection.  The author is Fr. Luis Granados, and his writing is straightforward and accessible rather than lofty or philosophical, and his commentary draws us closer to the sacred mysteries of the Paschal Story as it unfolds during Lent.  My hope is that this book will enrich your understanding of the liturgical season and connect you in meaningful ways to the poetry and beautiful celebrations of Lent.  A few minutes each day may not only nourish your spirit but deepen your prayer life.


So, this is your official invitation to my Lent Party! Order your copy of From Ash to Water and begin by reading the introduction to prepare for Ash Wednesday.  I will keep a reading journal over at The Province of Joy and invite you to come follow me there.  Read my reflections as time allows, and of course, I always welcome two or three (or more) to gather with me!  I so appreciate your comments or even just a quick click of the “like” button because they let me know you are there.  -rebecca.

I thirst for you. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe my love for you. I thirst for you. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you–that is how precious you are to me. I thirst for you. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials I thirst for you. You must never doubt my mercy, my acceptance of you, my desire to forgive you, my longing to bless you and live my life in you. I thirst for you. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I thirst for you. Open to me, come to me, thirst for me, give me your life–and I will prove to you how important you are to my Heart.

~ Blessed Teresa Calcutta “I thirst,”  From Ash to Water “THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT ‘The Samaritan Woman: Our Desire'” 


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lenten readalong

white_rabbit_oh_dear_oh_dear_i_shall_be_late_sticker-rfd398c13fe4d45b9ad5331a93a2b7ff1_v9waf_8byvr_324Oh dear ! Oh dear! Lent is almost here!  That’s right.  Around the corner, people.  This brings sighs of relief to me because Lent is always a wonderful excuse to slow down and live more intentionally, more prayerfully.  It’s a time for connection and transformation.  It’s my favorite time of the year, a time marked by grace and divine beauty made visible in the world with blossoming trees and signs of renewal all over the earth.  It should be the best book we read all year!  And so as I start to plan the 2015 Lent Party, I need your help selecting a readalong for the blog.

Last year I put together a small faith sharing group at my parish and we met each week to discuss Sarah Parson’s book A Clearing Season.  What a blessing that was for all of us!  My group of strangers drew closer to God and one another, and I hope to facilitate that journey again but perhaps with a different kind of book–one not so lessony as spiritual.  After emailing the group to let them know I’d be leading another retreat, many have responded with “here I ams” and hoorays, so I hope you, too, might consider participating in a readalong with us.  My small group will meet each week, but I will write weekly reflections for my virtual participants.  These weekly Lenten Reflections are posted on my sister blog, The Province of Joy, and I invite you to read along with us and share your own reflections.  I had many lurkers last year, people who visited and read but did not post, so my hope this year is that if two or three gather with me we can get some great conversations started.  Could it be you?

Now the idea is that you would buy the book and read it during Lent, peruse my reflections and then when you feel moved by the spirit share your thoughts, too.  Why not look over these suggested titles below and leave a comment to let me know if any of them sound like something you’d enjoy reading and discussing as part of your spiritual practice during Lent.  In the coming weeks I will consider all possibilities and announce the selected book before Ash Wednesday.


Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI



Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin, SJ



Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor



Lent and Easter: Wisdom from Thomas Merton



Lent and Easter: Wisdom from St. Therese of Lisieux



The Confessions of St. Augustine

When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us.

– St. Jerome

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returning to love and hope and understanding


Return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.

~ Joel 2:12

How will you make way for your return?  Are you giving something up?  Are you adding something in?  Will you weep and mourn?  Most likely.  Will you gaze outward, reach upward, maybe look within?  What can you do this Lent to truly transform your heart and not just change your garments?

Today marks the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday, and a good indicator of my willingness to return to God with my whole heart is just how many hurdles I have to jump over to get to mass!  Sheesh.  Littlest will go with her school in the morning, but since my students are in the middle of a writing cycle and need me in class, I will miss that opportunity and the noontime masses in my area.  The Catholic church I belong to has a beautiful ecumenical (non-denominational) service in the evening but will not offer communion.  The church down the street from that?  Well, in anticipation of my semi-annual trip to the confessional, I’ll be nice here and just say that’s not even an option.  My afternoon will consist of schlepping an hour home from work, taxiing biggest from the bus stop to dance, and then making my way in rush hour traffic across town to a church I’ve been to exactly once so I can sing and pray and receive my ashes.  Who in God’s name does this?  Isn’t it easier to throw ones hands in the air in OH WELL and succumb to the schedule like everyone else?  I mean, who has been known to drive two and half hours for good church?!  Do you know anyone, I mean, anyone . . . besides me?

At some point on this blog I contemplated this gravitational pull some of us nuts have toward church.  Why do we go?  What is it that happens there?  And more importantly, why is what happens there so vital to our being?  Here’s what I had to say,

I’m thinking today about my friends and companions and what draws us to one another.  Prompted to delve deeply into my own philosophy on faith by a priest friend who posited these questions on his blog yesterday, what are you hungry for when you go to church?  What happens there that satisfies you? I couldn’t easily answer in a quick reply.  This is a huge question for me because I am not a rote attendee–I have made a conscious decision to live a spiritual life and I don’t go just because it’s what I’ve always done.There is something there that stirs grace within me and helps me go out into the world with a deep sense of gratitude and joy, a sense of peace and hope that then spills over into the lives of others I encounter along the way.  What is that something?  Well I could easily identify the tangible poetry of church: the music, the visual beauty in stained glass or marble or oil and canvas, the words strung together in a song that speaks to me.  But I think there is something intangible and much more visceral that draws us in.

In the gospel readings . . . Jesus and his disciples multiply loaves and fishes and feed the multitudes gathered around their table, hungry for wisdom, healing and affirmation.   They are drawn into community around this single most ancient drive for fellowship.  What brings them there?  This is the beauty of our human story because while I think we all come from a place of misery at some level–whether that misery is true cosmic pain, physical discomfort or doubt and insecurity–we arrive in this place of glorious hope . . . once we are together, gathered around a table.  It often seems as if we are in a deserted place, with cruel destruction brought about by natural and man made disasters, and to overcome such devastation, we reach out for the hands of those around us and simply hold on.  That spirit moving within us, the spirit that leads us to one another, I believe, is love and hope and understanding.

~ Rebecca Board Liljenstolpe, “For We are In a Deserted Place Here


Thinking about staging your return this Lent? Visit our NEW sister blog THE PROVINCE OF JOY and learn how you can join in our discussion of Sarah Parsons’ book A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent.

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