I have previously blogged about our Lenten celebrations in so many posts before. Today, Palm Sunday, is the start of the celebration of Holy Week. It ends on Saturday, April 15 then Easter starts with Easter Sunday next week.
We attended an anticipated mass last night. The palms we brought were blessed thrice. Most of the time we attend such masses the night before during Palm Sunday. There usually is a Palm Sunday procession in the morning. Palm fronds are blessed. It signifies the triumphal entry of our Lord into Jerusalem. Holy Week is a solemn celebration for us Catholics. We remember Christ’s passion and death for our sins.
Quiet days in contemplation, quiet days of reading inspirational books I have collected through the years. I love the works of Thomas Merton, a Catholic writer, theologian and a mystic. He was also a poet and a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani. Back in college, I encountered his works particularly his book, The Seven Storey Mountain. It’s a timeless spiritual book that influences probably millions of Catholic readers worldwide. My favorite though is a thin copy of Thoughts in Solitude given by a friend a few years ago. I always read it now and then. I have some favorite quotes from the book:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
“Words stand between silence and silence: between the silence of things and the silence of our own being. Between the silence of the world and the silence of God. When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.”
Henri Nouwen’s books come next. He was a Dutch Catholic priest, writer and Theologian. I have three of his books which I also read when I am inspired. I bought them a while back at St. Paul’s. I am quoting this lovely prayer for Lent which he wrote in A Cry for Mercy.
“How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death? Yes, Lord, I have to die—with you, through you, and in you—and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess…. I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again. Amen”
How lovely it is to encounter such gifted writers. How lovely it is to read their inspirational works again.