I believe this is a very rich reflection for Lent that the good Cardinal has served at La Concordia College last March 7, 2009. I am thinking of importing the talk into PDF to make it easily downloadable and printable. But currently, I am not using my Linux-operated (Ubuntu) laptop because of technical problem so that importing the document is not possible. If you are a Linux user, in the spirit of “sharing in the desert,” you might want to do it and then tell us where it could be downloaded.
As Coolwaterworks has suggested, the whole talk could be read for the whole Holy Week. For personal purposes, I’m picking up some points I like to reflect on:
The Suffering of Pain: the Fear of Dying.
“Every one feels the pain in any suffering, because when someone is in pain something of the person dies. And all have the natural fear of death.”
At the Heart of all Spirituality is the Paschal Mystery.
“It is not surprising at all that when the Church teaches spirituality it defines spirituality as union with Jesus Christ, in the submission of one’s life to the Spirit and in filial attitude to the Father.”
“The worst part in a moral tragedy is that even if the difference between right and wrong is recognized through earlier education and training, if the people or their leaders do not have the courage to do what is right and to avoid what is wrong, the moral disaster worsens as we today see and experience.”
The Mystery of Suffering and Death: a Destiny, a Cycle or a Way.
“We need the lessons from the Desert! Are we surprised that there are solutions waiting for us in the desert?”
“Conversion requires more than a place, called a desert, no matter how rough and cruel. Internal purification comes from an experience that digs into the person’s consciousness, mind and heart. The desert is a desolate place, while a desert experience is a constant cruel struggle to become what a person should be according to the divine plan of a loving Creator. Conversion is a struggle that takes place in the heart of the person.”
Paschal Mystery’s More Meanings.
“We cannot escape the Paschal passage. We need to go to the desert and learn to withdraw from our attachments to greed and then rise free from within. Unless through discipline we are freed from selfishness, all our choices will be complete self-seeking.”
Describing a Desert: A Place and an Experience.
“It is in a trying situation like in the desert that one learns how to expect change, how to anticipate deprivation in order to adjust to another need. A pain like this is experienced by the poor and those who live in constant need. Theirs is a desert that occurs as part of daily life. A person who gets lost in the middle of a desert with no help is literally condemned to death. But happily in the plan of God and in the most common of experiences no one is completely alone.”
“The desert is like a little town where every resident cares for the health and cleanliness of every home, yard and the streets. The desert has known how to inspire and protect the common discipline for the good of everyone.”
“Sharing is the rule in desert-like existence. It is not only in the oasis where obvious sharing is seen; in every desert tent or shade, people know how to part from a bit of what they have in order to be given to another who otherwise would only watch him nibble at his food. No one is a spectator in the desert. Everyone is a sharer even only of the long shadow cast by giant cactus. In the desert everyone is really a child of the same Father; s/he is both a receiver and giver at the same roles of receiving and giving all the time.”
Knowing One’s Self in the Desert and in the Experience.
“The difficult part of the Paschal Mystery reflection is to recognize that as we look at our own desert experiences or moments of trial and pain, we do not recognize ourselves in the picture Jesus painted for us in the scenario of judgment and reward. Precisely the purpose of painful (desert) experiences is to allow the struggles to dig into our psyche, mind and soul not for the purpose of punishing us but in order to purify and to convert us from sin and the disappointments we discover in ourselves. This is the meaning of the purifying experience of the heart in a desert.”
“The Paschal Mystery shows us that we are still in the process of passing through the very depths of this crossing over and we do so with courage, meaning and hope.”
Change or Maturity in the Desert.
“One of the miracles of a desert experience is its ability to change people. It is in the desert where God can dig into the soul, mind and the heart of the person. No one is beyond the touch and the voice of God.”
“Through out all this reflection the lesson we get as we go beyond the desert as a place is to welcome the spirit and the heart of the desert experience.”
“Some people, however, emerge from the desert better prepared for life, a long struggle for success. Still others are purified in a wilderness experience. It is a school then where one’s experiences hope rather than condemnation. The desert brings out the best in a person. Conversion takes place in a desert where the deprivation from essentials forces the individual to look at one’s weakness and see rare alternatives to present needs. A desert experience teaches the virtue of sharing because the practice of selfishness spells death even to the greedy. Patience, understanding, humility and forgiveness are among other lessons from the desert. When one is aware of discomfort he soon learns the truth that s/he is just as weak as the others.”
Photo credit: Urban PoorAssociates