Happy Laetare Sunday!

Rejoice! I was quite excited to see that this weekend’s 2nd reading is from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians as that’s what our instructor just recently led us through in the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan Year Two class that my husband and I have been attending this past year. Not only that, I love it when the Lord starts to tie together several threads that he’s been weaving in my prayer time over the past year. A few words and phrases in particular that caught my eye from this 2nd reading are “new creation” and “reconciliation.”

I’ll start with “new creation.” This “thread” in prayer actually started last Pentecost when I received prayer at our Pentecost Praise & Prayer night. As the team prayed, I came to “rest in the Spirit.” I felt very peaceful, very relaxed, but at the same time, I felt a churning (or maybe a stirring/mixing sensation would be more accurate); it wasn’t uncomfortable or troubling…it just felt like something was happening. I asked God what He was doing and for a while, the feeling just continued, but I simultaneously felt more and more relaxed. Just before I “awakened,” I clearly heard God tell me, “I make all things new.” I continued to feel his presence and power and love even after getting up…but I was a bit weak! Thinking about this experience for several days after, the churning/mixing feeling made me understand more fully how the Lord truly wants to move within each of us…and He gave me that physical sensation as a sign of His power to make of us whatever we allow Him to!

Jump forward to this Lent…my small group and I are using the Lenten journal called Restore: A Guided Lent Journal for Prayer and Meditation. With it, we’ve been able to work on restoring, or reconciling as it were, (all) things to God through Jesus: our wounds, our sins, our desires. And so through it, the Lord is showing me some very concrete ways that he desires to “make me new.” But he can only do it with my cooperation! And it’s so beautiful the way Bishop’s Disciples Together on the Way challenges have dovetailed not only with this penitential season of Lent but with the content of this book, too! With these two “disciplines” (the journaling and follow-through on the challenges), I’ve been able to cooperate more fully with where the Holy Spirit is leading me…to healing, fuller conversion, and reconciliation (with myself, others, and the Lord!) So, as this Laetare Sunday signifies, there is JOY amidst suffering…and ultimately, joy: the goodness of the Lord, the beauty of his plans, and the truth that just keeps revealing itself more fully through the years.

Lent is halfway through, and it leads us to the cross with the Lord. We learn to “put to death” those things in us that are not of the Lord, to “crucify” our desires that are not rightly ordered, and to “scourge” our temptation toward sin. Within this work, we become that new creation! My Catholic Biblical School teacher Steve explained it this way: “New creation is a theme of Paul’s letters as a whole (2 Cor 5.17: ‘if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’). When reconciled to God, we access the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. With the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can live in righteousness:

  • The heart is the place of making choices for how to live
  • The Spirit renews our minds and impacts our morals, reasoning, and understanding
  • The Spirit alters the whole fabric of life – thinking, feeling, willing, acting
  • It can be so contradictory to the old way of life, it can be thought of as a ‘new creation.’

The Spirit has the power of God to transform us to be like God – to conform us to Christ!” There is still time this Lent to extend your cooperation to him—He’s already said yes!

Shayne Slough

Director of Parish Life