Mar 29th to Apr 4th: 5th Week of Lent – Conclusion & Epilogue

Reading: Conclusion: Becoming the Father; Epilogue: Living the Painting (p. 120 to 139)

Perhaps the most radical statement Jesus ever made is: “Be compassionate
as your Father is compassionate.” God’s compassion is described
by Jesus. . . to invite me to become like God and to show the
same compassion to others that he is showing to me. (p. 123)

Heartfelt thanks to those of you who have continued to participate in our Lenten journey, those posting comments and those remaining silent. I have been personally blessed by the warm and comforting thoughts exchanged among our virtual community during a Lent unlike any we have ever experienced.

Adapting Henri’s words that open the Conclusion and making them my own, when I found The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen for sale outside the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Singapore in 2004, a spiritual journey was set in motion that led me to where I am in my life today. (c.f. p. 120) When I first read The Return during that most difficult period in my life I was, in Henri’s words, “. . . deeply touched . . . because everything in me yearned to be received in the way the prodigal was received.” (p. 134) Reading The Return again this Lent–16 years later and for the third time as a participant in these discussions–my perspective has shifted dramatically and I better understand the challenge in the quotation above to “be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” While I remain, and we all remain, the younger son and the elder son, we are all called to become the compassionate father. And this has never been more true than it is now in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jesuit Cardinal Czerny recently tweeted, “During my years working on HIV/AIDS in Africa (2002-2010), I learned a helpful slogan ‘We are all infected or affected‘- so simple, true and challenging for the current pandemic, like the second half of the Great Commandment: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.‘” In the Conclusion and the Epilogue, Henri shows us that to live as people who are “infected or affected” we must become the compassionate Father and live the painting by “sharing the poverty of God’s non-demanding love.” (p. 138)

In words of great poignancy as we are social distancing or sheltering in place, Henri says it is the “Father’s call to be home. . . As the Father, I have to believe that all the human heart desires can be found at home (p. 132). . . . Living out this spiritual fatherhood requires the radical discipline of being home.” (p. 133). Home is where we grieve for our lost and suffering children and brothers and sisters; home is where we welcome them with forgiveness and generosity when they return.

As we come to the end of The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri ties together the threads of his spiritual journey in a way that encourages us to reflect on our lives and our call to “be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.” We have another great week of sharing and discussion ahead. You are invited to share what touched your heart this week or at any time on our Lenten journey. We look forward to hearing from you.

Here are several of Henri’s ideas that might prompt your thinking.

“(W)hether I am the younger son or the elder son. I am the son of my compassionate Father. I am an heir. . . . Indeed as son and heir, I am to become a successor. . . . The return to the Father is ultimately the challenge to become the Father.“(p. 123)

“(B)ecoming the compassionate Father is the ultimate goal of the spiritual life. . . . If God forgives sinners, then certainly those who have faith in God should do the same. . . . Becoming like the heavenly Father is not just one important aspect of Jesus’ teaching, it is the very heart of his message. . . . The great conversion called for by Jesus is to move from belonging to the world to belonging to God.” (p. 124-5)

“Jesus is the true Son of the Father. He is the model for our becoming the Father. . . . His unity with the Father is so intimate and so complete that to see Jesus is to see the Father. . . . In everything he is obedient to the Father, but never his slave. “(p. 126)

“As I look at my own aging hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God’s love.” (p. 139)

(I’m nearly a decade older than Henri was when The Return. . . was published. This image shows my 69-year-old hand and a detail from the poster hanging in our home.)

May the Lord be with you and give you peace.
Ray

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30 Responses to Mar 29th to Apr 4th: 5th Week of Lent – Conclusion & Epilogue

  1. Christopher Ciummei says:

    Again, I am blown away by Nouwen’s frankness, not just in how deeply he analyzes the painting, but how deeply he analyzes himself, and, by doing so, the reader. The biggest theme for me in the conclusion and, by extension, the epilogue, is that we all must strive to become the Father, even if that path is wrought with suffering and hardships. Growing out of our childlike ways and wants is not only necessary for our physical lives, it is God’s want for us as well, in order to help humanity in His image. Blessed are we, in turn, to have had such a wonderful meditative experience this Lenten season! ❤️

  2. Janice says:

    I just reread my introduction as to what I hoped to gain from participation in this book discussion. I had dedicated this journey to 3 very special friends who shared a love of family, selflessness and humility. I hoped I would gain a deeper understanding of forgiveness especially of myself.

    By reading this book and the many wonderful insights of others I believe I’m on the way to my aspiration. The 3 men I dedicated my reading to demonstrated much of what being like the Father is. Humility and selflessness for me are traits which will bring me closer to becoming like the Father. Accepting Gods forgiveness of myself and my own shortcomings are gifts that God wants me to have. By forgiving myself I am allowing myself Gods grace and allowing myself to be like the Father to others.

    I am so appreciative of my dear friend who invited me to this discussion and introduced me to Nouwen. What a special Easter gift.

    Gods blessings to you and those you hold dear.
    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Patricia Hesse says:

    My daughter sent this to me –it was shared by her church. I teared up when I followed the lyrics, singing them in my mind to the melody. This is to the hymn, “The Church’s One Foundation.” Please read. You will be surprised to discover the origin of the lyrics I include at the end. It is shared in standard hymn form, but I am typing it for you. Sing the song as you read.

    1. This Eas-ter ce-le-bra-tion
    is not like ones we’ve known.
    We pray in I-so-la-tion,
    we sing the hymns a-lone.
    We’re distant from our neigh-bors –
    from wor-ship leaders too.
    No flow-ers grace the chan-cel
    to set a festive mood.

    2. No gath-ered choirs are sing-ing;
    no ban-ners lead the way.
    O God of love and prom-ise,
    where’s joy this Eas-ter Day?
    With sanc-tu-a-ries emp-ty,
    may homes be-come the place
    we pon-der re-sur-rec-tion and ce-le-brate your grace.

    3. Our joy won’t come from wor-ship
    that’s in a crowd-ed room
    but from the news of wo-men
    who saw the emp-ty tomb.
    Our joy comes from di-sci-ples who ran with haste to see-
    who heard that Christ is ris-en
    and then, by grace be-lieved.

    4. In all the grief and suf-fering,
    may we re-mem-ber well
    Christ suffered cru-ci-fix-ion
    and faced the pow-ers of hell.
    Each Eas-ter bears the pro-mise:
    Christ rose that glory-rious day!
    Now no-thing in cre-a-tion
    can keep your love away.

    5. We thank you that on Eas-ter,
    your church is blessed to be
    a scat-tered, faith-ful bo-dy
    that’s do-ing mi-ni-stry.
    In homes and in the pla-ces
    of help and heal-ing too,
    we live the Eas-ter mes-sage
    by glad-ly serv-ing You.

    (lyrics by Samuel Sebastian Wesley written in 1864 during the 1863–1875 cholera pandemic)

    • marge says:

      Timeless……thank you, Patricia!

      • Nancy True says:

        Thank you, Patricia,
        This is truly wonderful.these words heal my heart as I find ways to be in the world during social distancing and being a chaplain to those hurting and confused.

        We are not alone, scattered, on our own in this world. These words to a familiar tune, give me hope that we as a 21st generation of Christians can and will be the light that gathers with other faith believers and will bring human together again.
        Peace to all,
        Nancy

    • Christopher Ciummei says:

      That’s beautiful!

    • Susan McNeely says:

      Wow, so powerful, thanks for sharing!

  4. Carolyn Green says:

    I’m writing to express my appreciation to all of the people who wrote responses to the questions that Ray asked or to express thoughts about the Henri Nouwen book that we read together.
    I have seen myself so clearly in the pages of this book. I have been the standoffish older brother, unwilling or unable to join in the celebration of return of the younger brother. I have been a judgmental ruler follower,harshly critical of others, while excusing my own sins and failures. I have seen that the love of God extends not only to the prodigal, but also to the self-righteous Pharisee, like me. In the light of this, my choices are to remain on the sidelines, as an observer, or go to the party and celebrate.
    I can, with the help of God, mature and leave behind the erroneously childish idea of a God who is solely punitive and waiting for me to blow it so I can be duly chastised.
    It was a new way of seeing God, and learning that the goal is for believers to become like God, in that we welcome all the others with hands that are both strong and tender.
    I have had much time for introspection and prayer this Lenten season. The book club and the reading of The Return of the Prodigal have given me much to think and pray about. Blessings to you all as we look toward Easter and new life.

  5. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    There will be a final post this Sunday and we will have a chance during Holy Week to review our encounter with The Return of the Prodigal Son. As Henri wrote in the Prologue, “At the heart of this adventure is a seventeenth -century painting and its artist, a first-century parable and its author, and a twentieth-century person in search of life’s meaning.” Beginning Sunday I hope you will share what you have gained from our time together and how you can take the lessons from this story and make them your own.

    May the Lord be with you and keep you and your safe. May he bless all those who are serving others during this pandemic.

    Ray

  6. Patricia R Martin says:

    Thank you Ray for moderating our Lenten discussion, and my thanks to everyone who has commented this week and before. I’ve had difficulty thinking through the reading this week, but the meditations that you have shared will point me to “home” when I try it again.

  7. In this time of COVID 19, it’s been difficult to open space for calm where creativity comes from. Instead, with sirens, Zooms, alternative ways to work from home and keeping up with family, it’s felt like John Travolta’s song from Saturday Night Fever—Stayin Alive. But slowing and seeing the Holy Spirit I can see gifts I’ve gained from reading the Return of the Prodigal a second time.

    Rereading Henri reminds me “the giving of the self is a discipline because it does not come spontaneously” (131). Instead it’s a rhythmic interior choice to surrender the soul moment by moment. Without God’s grace I’m powerless. But with God’s grace, the Christian walk becomes much more than going to church but a spiritual pilgrimage. We die to self before death. And in the letting go of the need to fix, manage and control, there is resurrection to new life in Christ.

    Reflecting on the Return of the Prodigal, I’ve been given two gifts. First, in my vocation as a psychotherapist. This unconditional love that “first loved me” is scandalous washing away sin and seeing me as Beloved. This love is often the only healing balm for victims of trauma. People who are victimized tell me its not what the perpetrator did, but what he/she said: Few forget the words: “No one will believe you. No one will ever love you again.” They experience the harsh self rejection Henri so often speaks of. But some surrender to a Source Greater than self. Here, seeing anew the eyes of a Divine Parent pleading ‘come home’—leads to interior healing of self-image created in the Imago Dei.

    Second, witnessing this sacred conversion bubbles over with gratitude wanting to give back. To forgive as the Father forgave me. To love unconditionally as Christ died for me. To serve one another with great compassion in small acts of love.

    Summarily, Jesus was the Prodigal Son with the sin of the world upon Him. God is the Prodigal Father receiving him back with wide arms of welcome. And the Holy Spirit draws the begger back beckoning us to draw from a Deep Well where “we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2Cor 3:18).

    Thank you all for your deep and honest sharing that has so touched me. Thank you for the safe space to be authentic for such a time as this. Lenten Love, Beverly

    • Diane Frances says:

      Beverly, “ a rhythmic interior choice to surrender the soul moment by moment “. What a beautiful expression! It’s a phrase that will stay with me.
      Thank you!

  8. Ray Glennon says:

    Friends,
    Today I was catching up on the Henri Nouwen Daily Meditations for the past week. In the March 28th meditation–Making Our Deaths Fruitful–Henri writes, “Jesus sees that the real fruits of his life will mature after his death. That’s why he adds, ‘It is good for you that I go.’ . . . The real question (for me) is: how can I live so that my death will be fruitful for others? In other words, how can my death be a gift for my loved ones so that they can reap the fruits of my life after I have died?”

    Our reading this week provides the answer. We must become the compassionate father. Our call is “to become the a father who only blesses in endless compassion, asking no questions, always giving and forgiving, never expecting anything in return.” (p. 138) As the compassionate father we offer our loved ones a home “where they can safely return and be touched by hands that bless them.” (p. 139) To live in that manner is to prepare for a fruitful death.

    May the Lord give you peace.
    Ray

    • Patricia Hesse says:

      I’m listening to Corrie Ten Boom’s, “The Hiding Place” on Audible when I walk. The narrator is excellent. The power of their story lies in its tenderness. Corrie’s father IS the compassionate father. I encourage you to LISTEN to the book. You will be uplifted and understand what the compassionate father looks like in a family.

  9. Patricia Hesse says:

    This past week, the image of a healthcare worker crouched down in his scrubbs, touching hands with his two year old son on the other side of their home’s sliding glass door, has been viewed by many on social media –it was even shown on World News Tonight with David Muir. This young father lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas –near where I live. On Saturday, Jonesboro was hit by a devastating EF-3 tornado that destroyed a huge indoor mall, demolished countless businesses, and leveled many homes –including the home of this young healthcare worker and his family. The community, for a time, forgot the fear of touching one another –hands of strangers reached out and met hands in need.

    Volunteers, police, and firemen from all surrounding towns and cities converged on Jonesboro to uncover frightened families from the debri of 150 homes, they helped people out of crushed cars, and set up shelters within an hour. The overwhelming response from those interviewed was, “Thank God for the virus.” Why? The tornado hit the busiest street in Jonesboro, the street with the mall and many popular restaurants, at 5:30 on a Saturday evening – but no one was there. The bumper to bumper traffic that is part of Redwolf Drive was sparse. The image of what might have been is too horrible to consider. Not one person died, thanks to the virus.

    Throughout my life I have been drawn to suffering. When I was young, I wondered how those who I knew had “bad” things happen to them, were the kindest people I knew. As I grew older and then older, life sent suffering my way in many forms –mostly through those I love. I became less judgmental, I got down on my knees more, I took nothing and no one for granted. On page 128, Henri says: “It might sound strange to consider grief a way to compassion. But it is. Grief asks me to allow the sins of the world –my own included –to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without tears.” He goes on: “I am beginning to see that much of praying is grieving. This grief is so deep not just because the human sin is so great, but also –and more so –because the divine love is so boundless. To become like the Father whose only authority is compassion, I have to shed countless tears and so prepare my heart to receive anyone, whatever their journey has been, and forgive them from that heart.”

    Last year, this group read Henri’s book, “Walk with Jesus” –in which he shared deeply touching stories of those whose lives were unimaginably difficult, but filled with hope. The stories tenderly illustrate Christ’s steps along the Stations of the Cross. In the section titled, “Jesus Falls for the Third Time,” he writes: “A man stumbles and falls to the ground. He is so weak and filled with pain that he cannot get back on his feet without help. As he lies there powerless, he reaches out and opens his hands, hoping that another hand will grasp his and help him to stand again. A hand waits for the touch of another hand. The human hand is so mysterious. It can create and destroy, caress and strike, make welcoming gestures and condemning signs; it can bless and curse, heal and wound, beg and give. A hand can become a threatening fist, as well as a symbol of safety and protection. It can be most feared and most longed for.”

    To become the Father I must be broken by the suffering of another, not just my own. I must be the hands of the healthcare worker touching his son’s hands through a glass. I must be the hands of those after Saturday’s tornado who reached out to strangers in need and entered their suffering in love.

    • Elaine M says:

      Patricia, your narrative about the personal impact of the tornado, your thoughtful perspective and discernment about how God works through our lives even in tragedy, and your reflection about the lessons that all of us should take to heart are so inspiring. Yours is a story of mourning but also of hope. It is a story that all of us need right now.

      I have been thinking about three family funerals I have attended in the last several years. Each time, we celebrated the life of a loved one, grieved together and alone, embraced, and settled in for a meal together with time to share news and stories about our individual lives. Yet in each of these gatherings I was either directly part of or witness to a scene of reconciliation of family members who had been estranged in some way, perhaps even for years. While united in our mourning, we experienced the joy of a different, often unexpected kind of reunion, accompanied by reconciliation, forgiveness, and joy.

  10. Diane Frances says:

    I am struck by Henri’s insight that it’s tempting to remain as the returning wayward son or to struggle with the resentment and anger of the elder son, and that these attitudes toward the spiritual life are reinforced by the Church and society. This is so true. And in reality, it’s really self centered. But the real challenge of the mature spiritual life is to become the Father. While this can be achieved through shared grief, unlimited forgiveness, and unconditional generosity , I remind myself that as Henri said near the beginning of the book, I cannot do this by myself. I need to allow God to work in me to transform me. Yes, spiritual disciplines bring me to the door of my true home, but it is God who opens the door from the other side, through each of our unique life situations, our strengths and weaknesses, our individual temperaments and our experiences. Then I need the courage to walk through that door and become one with the Father. For me, that courage comes from seeing Jesus as the Way, from hearing the truth from great teachers, and from seeing the light in the “ ordinary “ people who fill my life.

    • Liz says:

      Thanks Diane for reminding me about the light from the ordinary people and events in our lives.

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      Beautifully written, Diane!
      Related to your point about the ultimate need for allowing “God to work in me to transform me,” here is one of my favorite passages from Scripture: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me” [An invitation to the Messianic banquet] Revelation 3:20. The invitation is there for each of us; we only need to open the door. This is a slightly different perspective, I suppose, from your note that it is God who opens the door. However, as you state: “I need the courage to walk through that door and become one with the Father.”

      Thanks very much.
      Barry

  11. Don says:

    I first read The Return of the Prodigal Son not long after it was first published. I was in my early 50’s and was involved in a leadership role in our small, Christian university. At that time and in my second reading a year or so later, I identified most with the older son. Growing up in a legalistic, perfectionist church culture it had been easier to outwardly keep the rules while folding my arms in some judgement on those who didn’t. Over the years I gradually moved toward a more loving and compassionate response to others but often found the power of my early formation difficult to escape. Reading the book in preparation to teach it in a Sunday School class in 2007 and then again during this Lenten season (now in my early 70’s), I am increasingly drawn toward the longing and desire to more fully extend the love, care and generosity of the Father to others. I think it is a lifetime journey to become more like the Father. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll every get there–and then I’m reminded that we get there by the grace and mercy of God–just as the prodigal and the elder brother were forgiven and drawn into the light!

    • Christopher Ciummei says:

      It’s interesting that you mention your transition in reading the book a few different times, and at different times in your life. I am currently in my mid 30s, and struggling to become the Father our of that Elder Son period. It’s not easy, but I wonder if I read this book again in my 50s, if I will feel the same.

  12. Ray Glennon says:

    From Cata
    Cata provided a link to a video for the song We Remember. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vziyIo20Im0

  13. Elaine M says:

    On p. 127 Henri notes that we may strive to “acquire power” when we expect people to follow our advice, thank us for our help, and remember us for our good deeds. I understand the premise that virtue is its own reward and that our intention for good works should be love and compassion and not adulation. However, when I offer some strategies to someone whom I meet on a St. Vincent de Paul home visit, I do pray that the neighbor in need will have the will and the perspective to take the offered suggestions as ways to empower herself and to carve out a better future for her family. We at the Society speak of the “tyranny of the moment” that can stress, immobilize, and in a sense paralyze the neighbor in need, preventing her from breaking the destructive patterns of her life. She has already humbled herself when she asks for our help. I don’t need her thanks as much as I long to see that my encouragement and advice has helped her.

    Like many people, I do like to be appreciated, but I think it is more important to flip that into a “note to self” to always, always find every way possible to thank others for their service (however seemingly small) and for just being who they are. These days we need to thank everyone from the grocery clerk to the pharmacist to the delivery driver to the child who is scrawling happy notes to the world on her driveway. It is not that God “needs” our thanks as much as He/She desires the spiritual growth we experience when we recognize the blessings of our lives, both large and small–in nature, in the goodness and courage of people, and in ourselves. Today I am grateful for a forgiving God who keeps giving me a second chance, a third chance, a thousandth chance to pick myself up and try again.

  14. Barry Sullivan says:

    As I re-read the final pages of Henri Nouwen’s exceptional book, I am struck by his discussion of the three ways by which the image of the Father [Mother] can grow in me and all of us. The three “aspects of the Father’s [Mother’s] call to be home” are grief, forgiveness, and generosity.

    I like Henri Nouwen because, though he wrote this book many years ago, his fundamental insights seem timeless. I hope I am not stretching this too much, but as we as a nation and world try to navigate through this pandemic, I was thinking about his discussion of “generosity.” In particular, after reading today’s news, I ask what can I do to pour myself out for others in special need at this time (see page 130)? Among these people in need are the sick and those risking their own health and lives to bring healing.

    I hope these links work here, but if not the headline conveys the story well.
    “Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines. The pandemic has begun to sweep through New York City’s medical ranks, and anxiety is growing among normally dispassionate medical professionals.” New York Times (3-30-2020). See link for full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/nyregion/ny-coronavirus-doctors-sick.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    Those are my quick thoughts this afternoon in linking the Return of the Prodigal Son to our lives in 2020.

    Peace and all good!
    Barry

  15. Liz says:

    I see a link between the father’s hands on his son, and the hands of the Good Shepherd holding the lost lamb. Both done with compassion. Love is the strongest brdge to happiness.

  16. I have continued to facilitate my Lent group via email, with a few of us responding to the questions on this book in the course and accompanying CD. It’s been a good time of learning from each other, and the material has seemed even more appropriate at this time of huge questions, much uncertainty and an even greater need for worldwide unity. I love Nouwen’s honesty in sharing his ongoing struggles, the up-and-down nature of our Christian pilgrimage, and the realisation of what is truly important. The constant reminder that God loves us – calls us Beloved – runs to meet us, throws a party to celebrate our return, and draws us into his own role as father/mother – needs to be reflected in my own life, as I reach out more to people and see the beauty within each one, rather than the externals which might keep us apart.

  17. Barry Sullivan says:

    Hello Ray and everyone else here!
    My apologies for not checking in until now. Hope this doesn’t affect my final grade! Our plans have been changed due to the Coronavirus, and we have not yet returned home to Minnesota. Instead, we are helping our daughter and family in El Paso, Texas, where she is a public school teacher and technology advisor. That latter role is extremely important now, since all schooling will be online beginning tomorrow. And we have two grandkids to help care for during the day!

    “We are all infected or affected,” the quote you provide from Cardinal Czerny, is a good one to remember, especially during these troubled days.

    Henri’s comment that, “Perhaps the most radical statement Jesus ever made is: ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (p. 123) has always been a key passage for me. However, in these days of a dangerous virus in the world and as we see health care workers showing compassion and putting themselves in danger (sometimes with inadequate supplies), this message from Jesus resonates even more strongly. May we all reflect that compassion in our world.
    Barry

    • Linda MacDonald says:

      Barry, thank you for your post. You and your family will certainly be remembered in my prayers today. Indeed we are all infected or affected. Maybe the reality of that is lost on us most of the time unless a time of acute awareness kicks in as now. My further prayer is that we remember this time and indeed will seek to move toward the compassion of the Father. Many blessings be upon you and your family during this time.

      • Barry Sullivan says:

        Linda,
        Thanks so much for including me and the family in your prayers. I will do the same for you! The sense of community provided here is valuable to me and I am sure others, especially at this time when we are told to “shelter in place” (or a similar phrase) in different states.

        As a retired pastor (I was prompted to look at your introduction) it is important to have your insights in these discussions.

        One thought you included in the first week related to the importance of “bridge building,” which was present even during the Cold War as we stood on the precipice of nuclear destruction. I think many of us may have seen a decline in “bridge building” between peoples and nations in recent years. Perhaps, we might hope, this current crisis will prompt us to recognize that we are all in God’s creation together. We are not islands; we are affected by each other and depend on each other.

        Thanks…blessings on this Monday morning!
        Barry

  18. Linda MacDonald says:

    The Fifth Sunday of Lent. It hardly seems possible. Despite the world pandemic the Earth keeps turning, the seasons north of the equator are turning toward springtime, while below the equator toward autumn. This passing of days and seasons is both great and small. When I began reading this morning the words about finding joy in the small things spoke mightily to my heart. I have a friend who spent part of his life as a priest. Somewhere along the way that call lived in that way no longer spoke to him and he left. Yet his living maintained that quality and still does into his old age. He has always been able to experience and express joy in the moment over what I often judged was not quite enough to even consider as significant. Notice the word “judge”. Henri’s discussion of the difference between cynicism and joy seem especially important on this particular Sunday of Lent. But actually these words speak to the recent past as well. Our particular nation is beset by deep cynicism and that quality does indeed impair our seeing the small things in which so much of the joy of the Father both dwells and is expressed. That’s all for now. There is more to ponder this Fifth week of Lent 2020. Blessings be to all of you.

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