This is what I put in the parish bulletin this weekend. I’m not yet prepared to fulfill the promise I made below to invite you on my own Lenten journey. But I hope to have a plan by Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), which I will first discern with my spiritual director – and then with you. Stay tuned . . .
What am I doing for Lent? . . . and you?
The world is a mess.
Violence is met with violence; hatred with hatred; fear with fear.
Ugly polarization seems to characterize every attempt to “deal constructively” with disagreements and conflicts. Accusations abound. Shouting without listening.
Taking a hint from pope and saint – both named Francis – I am planning to redouble my effort at addressing the path of understanding with listening and with prayer.
One of the turning points in the life of St. Francis was his meeting with Sultan Malek al-Kamil in 1219, at the height of the Fifth Crusade. He expected to convert the Sultan to Christ, and expected to be killed if that did not work. Documentation on the incident is sparse, but more and more research seems to indicate that both men were changed, and at least in small ways, became catalysts for change, howe er small, in the communities they represented. Perhaps this can be a pattern to lead to healing in our own world today.
During his visit to the Holy Land last year, Pope Francis invited both presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority simply to come and pray with him for peace. The prayer took place in the Vatican Gardens on a beautiful evening, June 8, 2014. The moving video of the event is still available on the Vatican website.
Human efforts are not succeeding in bring peace. They never have in all of human history, why should we expect them to now. The question is, how can we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, pray in a way that can lead to our own conversion. We cannot expect a change in others that has not already come about in ourselves.
Frankly, I do not know how to do this. But I am committing myself to a kind of prayer and discipline during Lent with the intention of discovering at least some insight. And I intend to share this journey, as far as possible, on my website: http://tomwelbers.net. Please check there if you are interested in following my Lenten journey.
Have you decided what your Lenten journey will look like?
I just received an invitation to a screening of a new movie In the Footprints of Francis and the Sultan: a Model for Peacemaking, co-produced by Franciscan Media and the USCCB. More information about the movie is at: http://franciscanmedia.org/francissultan/. I will not be able to attend the screening, which is this Thursday at 6:30 pm at Sts. Simon and Jude Church in Irvine, but I plan to order the video, and perhaps have our own screening of it sometime during Lent.
If perhaps you’d like to see it on Thursday in Orange County, please contact Sts. Simon and Jude Church for more information, (714) 962-3333.
I love you. Fr. Tom Welbers