Personal events and themes can shape our meditations for Lent 2021.
What follows is a true story I experienced with Father Roger Mercurio, C.P. about how we endure the penance of everyday sufferings. Perhaps the example might shape our experience of Lent in 2021.
Father Roger Mercurio, C.P., wrote the Introduction to the book, Biblical Meditations for Lent. Father Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. authored the book which was published by Paulist Press in 1978. It’s sound scholarship from the Old and New Testament still speaks to us in 2021. Mercurio, in addition to being a Scripture scholar, had a profound grasp of Passionist history and spirituality which has shaped my own study, writing and teaching. Stuhlmueller, possessed zeal and compassion whenever he taught or wrote about Sacred Scripture from the Old and New Testament.
Here is my story: I had been studying at the Passionist Archives for Holy Cross Province located in the Passionist monastery on Harlem Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Someone arrived at the monastery for confession. Father Roger was called to hear the confession. Returning a short time later, he made the following comment. “You know, naming the sacrifices we face in everyday life can help heal us.” He continued: ” Because construction workers have been ripping up Harlem Avenue in front of the monastery it has made driving miserable!” He then proceeded to tell me that the penance he suggested to the person who had just made their confession was to “drive out of the driveway and allow their being stuck in the horrendous slow moving traffic to be a reminder of how Christ suffers with us in so many ways.” He ended with the statement: “When it comes to meditations on sufferings, life provides us with many moments.” His was such a simple and practical insight. Faith allows us to name them. That open faith also allows God’s wisdom and presence to bring about surprising healing in our life.
I think these might be some common sufferings we will experience or will see around us in Lent 2021.
There is a lack of family space and workspace that has been caused by the pandemic.
There is an absence of social pleasures that has fostered a sense of personal depression and anxiety that has become a burden for me and others I know.
Perhaps it is time to admit that as times have changed over this past year, there have also been profound moments of hope and peace that I need to acknowledge, and I have just been afraid to do that.
Tested has been my understanding of the relationship between personal faith and civic faith. My sense of compassion has turned to bitterness. In other ways I have been surprised how past apathy has put us on a path towards seeking justice and peace. Even more scary is I am just numb and have become angry.
Let us be honest.
We all can identify our traffic jams of life.
Let us see them. Let us name them. Let us seek God’s grace. May this awareness and action provide us with a road map to face the sufferings on our journey this Lent 2021.
For more on Father Roger Mercurio, C.P see https://passionistarchives.org/biography/father-roger-mercurio-c-p-holy-cross-province-1918-2001/
For more on Father Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., see https://passionistarchives.org/biography/father-carroll-stuhlmueller-c-p-holy-cross-province-1923-1994/