Genuine bonds with Jesus Christ

Sometimes we need to go back to our faith though to get perspective. And I’d like to share this with you, our faith, I think, teaches us what to do with our feelings, our fear, our inconveniences, our reduced options for social connection.

My brother, Richard Rohr, recaps a dictum from psychology when he restates, “Any pain that is not transformed, is always transmitted.”

St Francis

St. Francis of Assisi receiving the Stigmata

So, this fear and loneliness could be a worse contagion that we spread unwittingly. It’s OK to have feelings, just not let the feelings have us. I get grumpy and fearful, for example, and maybe then I snap at the Brother that’s making dinner for us. He doesn’t know what to do with that when the Provincial does that, so he goes out and kicks the dog. It’s not a good thing. That’s the kind of contagion I’m talking about.

Our Baptism into Christ is not a flu shot against feelings. Feelings of fear and confusion that’s part of the human condition. It’s what we do with our feelings that can change things.

This Lent reminds us how to transform that pain. The secret is not to waste the suffering but allowing it to be transformed by the love of Christ.

St. Francis himself felt pain. He felt a lot of these feelings but, he learned how to take his own hurt, his own pains, his own slights, even from his own friars. Situations where he felt wounded. And he touched his nailed hands to the nailed hands of Christ.

Francis practiced this to such a high degree that his own body bore the marks of his friend, Jesus, the Crucified One. Out of a desire to share that love, with his Deep Friend. To share his sufferings, large or small, with Jesus became the road to transformation.

This is not a Lent of our choosing. But a Lent that’s been given to us.

In the old morning offering we used to say, “We offer our prayers, our works, our joys, and sufferings of this day to Jesus.”
We can still say that prayer this Lent. For Christians, this is an opportunity for transforming our suffering. This Lenten practice reminds us of our connection with all those other people who are suffering throughout the world: the poor, the dispossessed, the forgotten.

In Christ Jesus we know we are connected with genuine bonds that social distancing cannot break.

Fr. Mark

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Friars praying

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