Mar 19th to Mar 25th: Fourth Week of Lent – The Imperatives of the Fourth Quintile

Reading: The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom
“Accept Your Identity as a Child of God” to “Claim the Victory” (pages 70 to 92)

Your true identity is as a child of God. . . You belong to God and it is
as a child of God that you are sent into the world. (p.70)

The more you come to know yourself—spirit, mind, and body—as truly
loved, the freer you will be to proclaim the good news.
This is the freedom of the children of God. (p.75)

The more you can feel safe as a child of God, the freer you will be to claim
your mission in the world as responsible human being. (p. 78-9)

Thank you, once again, to everyone that is sharing our Lenten journey—both those posting comments and those following along in silence. Before we get to this weeks’ spiritual imperatives, I’d like to address two comments from our discussion last week.

First, one participant asked if the drop off from the number of comments posted during the Welcome and Introduction and the First Week of Lent to the number of comments posted in later weeks was typical and why that drop off may occur. Based on my experience, I can say with certainty that this pattern is typical. Why does it occur? We really don’t know. In some cases, it may be that people introduce themselves with the best of intentions of participating and like other Lenten promises (including mine!), people sometimes don’t follow through. In other cases, as was noted in another comment last week, there are people that choose to follow the discussion but are not comfortable posting comments—and that’s perfectly fine too. Everyone is welcome. As a long-term participant and now moderator, let me offer a third possibility. During every discussion, including this one, we are blessed by people who post insightful, beautifully written, and deeply moving comments based on their personal experience. Our discussion is greatly enhanced by such comments and I know they lead all of us to reflect more deeply on Henri’s writing. Keep those comments coming! As moderator, I know that I am humbled when reading those comments, so much so that I sometimes question the value of my own posts each Sunday and my comments during the week. I would guess that there may be other participants that ask themselves whether their thoughts and comments are worth sharing (perhaps in comparison to the comments of others). Since you are still with us as we enter our fourth week and have been pondering Henri’s imperatives, I think you know how Henri would respond to that concern. He would encourage each and every person to share what you feel called to share from your heart—and to never feel obliged to share if you are not comfortable. Everyone gathered here is a member of a loving community, seeking to gain wisdom from the words of Henri Nouwen—any and all contributions to our discussion will be gratefully and respectfully received.

Second, and more briefly, there was interest expressed in having an optional Zoom virtual gathering to complement the traditional online book discussion. We are planning to schedule a virtual gathering during Holy Week on either Monday, April 3rd or Tuesday, April 4th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. If you would be interested in participating, please submit a comment, including your preferred day. Further information about the Zoom discussion will be provided in future posts. Based on the interest and group feedback, we may consider adding a Zoom virtual gathering component during future discussions.

Now, let’s turn to the reading for this week. Although these spiritual imperatives were all written during the seven months from December 1987 to June 1988, they were not necessarily written in the order shown in our book. In other collections of brief pieces written over time, Henri would group similar ideas and themes together. Last week Henri emphasized the importance of community. This week Henri implores himself, and us, to accept our identify as a child of God that is truly loved. It is that sure knowledge that allows us to be a friend, trust our friends, and avoid self-rejection as we take up our cross and claim the victory won by Jesus—knowing that we are encompassed by the love of God. The quotes at the top of this post show how Henri’s painful growth during his time of extreme anguish moved him toward his central spiritual insight that we are the beloved.

Several years later (in 1992), Henri’s sermon to the congregation at the Crystal Cathedral included this exhortation: “Dear friends, if there is anything, anything I want you to hear this morning, it’s that what is said of Jesus is said of you. You have to hear that you are the beloved daughter and son of God. And to hear it not here (points to head) but right here (points to heart), and to hear it so your whole life can be turned around.”

As always, you are encouraged to share whatever touched your heart in the readings. You might choose to reflect on whether you accept your identify as a child of God and experience yourself as the beloved daughter or son of God. If so, why? If not, why not? And in either case, how does the concept that we are a child of God—the beloved daughter or son of God—affect your life? Of course, you are also invited to continue to use the process we have suggested in previous weeks to ponder and comment on one or more imperatives.

We look forward to hearing from many of you, those that have been commenting regularly and others that feel called and are willing to share your insights with our Lenten community. We are blessed by your participation.

I’m confident we will have another fruitful and spirit-filled week.

Posted in Lent 2023-The Inner Voice of Love | 79 Comments