…new wine is poured into new wineskins
Jesus said elsewhere, “Behold, I make all things new.” He came to restore us to His likeness, to reconnect us to the Father of all. Our physical creator is also the One who redeems our spiritual nature. This happens through prayer, penance and good works. Our Lenten journey invites us to a deeper walk with Our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the savior of all and can show us the way.
We may not know how we can grow in the spiritual life. Jesus does. He calls His disciples to renewal and fasting in today’s Gospel. Fasting responds to His apparent absence. Jesus says, “…the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” When we have Jesus we have everything. When we experience this fulfillment of all desires, it doesn’t matter whether we eat or fast. As the Psalm goes, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Lent is a time of renewal, when we assess our spiritual life and make real effort to improve our relationship with Christ, our neighbors and ourselves. The three common forms of penance are fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Have you made any resolutions in these areas? It is good to make one in each area. They are perfect ways to restore our wineskins to be ready for the new wine of Jesus Christ.
One great way to start your Lent is to attend our Parish Mission this week with Brian Casey. He is a lay evangelist who left all to follow Jesus in this mission of sharing the Good News. He will offer us several messages a day in both a morning session and an evening one. Come be refreshed by the grace of Christ in His Word to you.
“Collatio (coh lah' tsee oh) is a Latin word for a shared meal to which everyone contributes and in which we all share.” (http://www.worship.ca/docs/vis_06.html) It is also the name given to a style of prayer and sharing of the Scriptures. It involves choosing a passage, especially from the life of Christ in the Gospels. The Sunday Lectionary is perfect for this exercise. One also is better prepared for Sunday Mass when the readings have been reflected on in this way.
The atmosphere should be prayerful. This is not a Bible study. We are trying to let the Word inebriate our souls. The passage is read once, slowly. All are invited to share a word or a phrase that struck them our stood out. After this, the passage is read again. Now the listener is invited to share an image or analogy that relates to the passage. Take your time with this. It might not be so easy. No one has to share. Then the passage is read for a third time. Now we consider and share what this reading means to me today. How will it affect my life? How must I respond to the truths that I heard? The Word does not return to the Lord void. After sharing, it is good to take a moment of quiet and share silently with the Lord some word of thanks. Close with an Our Father.
I repeat here these questions:
(1) What word or phrase stood out for me?
(2) What image or analogy comes to mind as I hear this?
(3) What does this Word mean for me today?
I am encouraging all groups that meet in the parish during the Lenten Season to use this as an opening prayer. Try not to rush. The business of the parish can wait. In fact, sharing our faith with one another in the Collatio is important business. Thanks for taking time with Jesus and one another during this Lenten Season. (Drawn in part from John Veltri, SJ, Directed Retreat Goes to Parish: A Manual About the Use of the Directed Retreat in a Parish Setting, http://www.jesuits.ca/orientations/bob/retreat.htm).
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