For the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, said, In quiet and rest is your salvation: peace and hope are your strength.
Lent, A Sea of God's Mercy
by Catherine Doherty
"I was praying and it came to me that Lent is a sort of sea of God's mercy.
In my imagination Lent was warm and quiet and inviting for us to swim in. If we did swim in it, we would be not only refreshed but cleansed, for God's mercy cleanses as nothing else does.
Then I thought of our reticence. I don't know if it is reticence or fear to really plunge into God's mercy.
We really want to be washed clean; we want to be forgiven.
But these desires meet with something else inside.
I say to myself that if I do enter into the sea of mercy I will be healed, and then I will be bound to practice what Christ preaches, his law of love, which is painful, so terribly painful.
There by that sea I stand and think: If I seek mercy I have to dish out mercy; I have to be merciful to others.
What does it mean to be merciful to others?
It means to open my own heart, like a little sea, for people to swim in.
If we stand before God's mercy and drink of it, it will mean that the Our Father is a reality, and not just a prayer that I say. "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come..." We like that part and have no problem saying it.
But then we come to: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.... Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
We shake our heads and say, "Yes, it's Lent; it's true we should be forgiving everybody."
But we don't like trespassers. If strangers come to use our beaches we will say to ourselves: What are they doing here?
Why do they come to our beach? It's not easy to make of one's heart a little sea of mercy for the other.
We should also be listening to God's will. But we think: Wait a second! "Thy will." What does that mean?
It means many things. For instance somebody is thinking of entering a convent and they say, "Well, I don't know; I'm afraid. Maybe I won't measure up." Silly people! Of course they won't measure up, but God will measure up for them. If he calls them, he'll give them the grace.
As we look at the will of God -- to go to a convent or to marry or to just live in the world in the conditions of today, to submit oneself to somebody else-our hackles rise up against authority.
To submit to the will of God would be to put our toe in the sea of God's mercy.
Lent relentlessly moves on and shows us who we are -- our true identity as Christians, what it means to be Christian.
The mercy that we must give to others includes that of standing up for the poor, the lonely, those who have no education and cannot stand up for themselves.
It means to engage in what we call social justice on behalf of our sister and brother. That involves opening ourselves to being pushed around and crucified.
This always happens to those who stand up for others.
Do we want to go into the sea of God's mercy, to be washed clean so that we begin to do the things of Christ?
What is this Lent all about?
It is to go into some strange and incredible depths of ourself and there to meet the sea of God's mercy and swim in it, having shed all garments, garments of selfishness and fear."