Saturday 22 April 2023

Season of Mercy Lent and Easter - Catherine de Hueck Doherty - Seasonal Customs Vol. 2

Season of Mercy: Lent and Easter 
Seasonal Customs Vol. 2
Mary Bazzett (Editor)
ISBN 9781897145128
ISBN 9781897145197

This is the third volume I have read from Catherine de Hueck Doherty. It was a new volume I picked up for Advent in 2022 and it carried over until 2023. I spent a few days at Madonna House in the early 1990’s. I am familiar with her name but had yet to read much from her pen. After reading this one I have already added a few of her other books to my wish list, and easily could have added a dozen. The eBook was released in 2012; the book was first published in 1996 and a revised edition released in 2012. This volume from Doherty was compiled from her works and talks. The description of this volume is:

“A guide to entering into the mystery and celebration of Lent and Easter. Catherine Doherty leads us into the riches of God s boundless mercy as she teaches us the spirit, the liturgy, and the customs of the Lent and Easter season, including: Practical guidance on preparing for the internal spiritual pilgrimage that is Lent. Meditations on the meanings of the many holy days preceding and following Easter. Traditions and customs which will help your family live the holiness of the Easter season. After-dinner talks by Catherine Doherty, spiritual readings around the dining room table on the spirit, liturgy and customs of Lent, Holy Week, the Easter Triduum and Paschaltide. 

Catherine speaks on such topics as how to Prepare for Lent; Why Fasting; The Motive is Love; Sin, Repentance, Conversion. Also on Palm (Passion) Sunday; Holy Week; Holy Thursday: Priesthood and Eucharist; Good Friday; Holy Saturday: Christ s Descent into Hades; and Christ is Risen! Then Paschaltime and Christ's Ascension, Pentecost. A rich tapestry of scriptural reflections and Customs and Traditions to bring it all to life! Excellent for personal and group study. A wonderful resource for preachers and teachers! Volume one of this series is Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas Meditations and Traditions by Catherine Doherty also available.”

And the sections in the book are:

1 Reflections for Lent
     God Loved Us First
     Begin with Desire
     Ash Wednesday
     The Lenten Atmosphere
     Seek God’s Will
     Learning to Love
     I Give My Life
     The Sea of God’s Mercy
     Repentance and Forgiveness
     To Fast
     My Heart is Ready

2 Thoughts in Holy Week
     Take Off Your Shoes
     Palm Sunday
     Holy Thursday
     Good Friday
     Holy Saturday

3 The Easter Season
     The Feast of Feasts!
     Christ’s Ascension

4 Pentecost: The Holy Spirit
     Who is the Spirit?
     The Fire and the Wind
     Gifts of the Spirit
     All Made New
     Pain and Unity

5 Madonna House Customs and Traditions
     The Season of Lent
     Holy Week Customs
     We Celebrate Easter!
     The Supper of the Lamb

About the Author

The layout of the book made it difficult. Some reflections have specific dates, or feasts in the church Calandar, most do not. Because of this I ended up jumping around a bit. I highlighted numerous passages when reading this volume, most in the first half of the volume. Some of them are:

“Catherine often began preparing the community for Lent immediately after the Christmas season. She understood well that we need to prepare to prepare—prepare for Lent, which is itself a preparation for Easter, which reminds us of our final passover at death. Her enthusiasm made other hearts catch fire; no one in the community wanted to miss Lent, let alone Easter!”

“These talks span a 25-year period from the late 1950s through the early 1980s and reflect changes occurring in the world, the Church, Madonna House, and in Catherine herself during those years.”

“Lent is a most important liturgical season, a time of preparation for the main event in the life of the Church and her members: the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, the event on which rests our whole faith.”

“Why did this man—who is also God—go forth preaching, when he knew that at the end of his preaching he was going to die a horrible death? Because he loved his Father, and for love of us, he obeyed his Father.”

“Lent is a spiritual journey. It has a particular spirit, quite different from any other time of the liturgical year, a spirit that tells you quietly and simply where you are going: to the Passover, the resurrection. You follow Christ across his whole life, you die with him, and you are buried in him, so to speak.”

“Preparation for Lent begins with desire. We exist to desire God. As St. Augustine says, “My heart is restless until it rests in Thee.” In this is the preparation for Lent: touching a desire for God that is deep down in the heart. Desire is like a flame, it starts small and it grows. Lent should fan our desire for God into a bonfire.”

“He who desires God already possesses him. The way to desire is to enter into Lent, to begin fasting not only from food, but from whatever leads us to run away from the new life God offers.”

“You can find him in books; you can find him in all kinds of things. But the simplest way is this: stillness of body, stillness of heart, stillness of mind, and one thought: “Lord, come!” And you wait. The “wings” of your intellect are folded; your heart is wide open. You wait. And suddenly, when you least expect it, he is there! Now you have met, because he met you.”

“Ah, but what dust! You are dust that is going to be one with God. Isn’t that enough to make you dance, right in the middle of this ash business? We are not an ordinary dust—we are a dust that is going to be eternal, a dust that is going to be glorified, a dust that is going to be with God. So, let us prepare ourselves to receive that “dust” with joy—a joy based on discipline—and let us enter the corridor of Lent.”

“Seven weeks are set aside every year for us to let go of the old and to enter into the new, because God is merciful. Now we can pass over from the old life that we led before Lent, into the new life after. This “passover” is a daily occurrence; it is not only during Lent. But Lent enhances it and makes you think. It concentrates you. It brings you into the heart of God.”

“Lent is you and I, like St. John the well-beloved, putting our head on the bosom of Christ and hearing the heartbeats of God (John 13:21-25). When you hear the heartbeats of God, you change.”

“There is something very important that we can pray for, for each other. We cannot really get it by reading, but we can get it from our family or Christian community, through the Holy Spirit. It is a Lenten “atmosphere”, which is created and into which we are immersed, as into the water in baptism. Faith comes by hearing, and the Holy Spirit must use somebody to speak. God has made us vehicles of the Holy Spirit for each other. The Lenten climate that someone creates in a family deeply affects its members. This means that one has to be very alert and awake, because we are in a secular society. In Madonna House, which I consider a family, I have tried to create a Lenten atmosphere.”

“I suggest you drastically reduce your use of TV, radio, computers, and other media. What is involved here is the experience of Lent as a time for a silence created by absence of the world’s noises to be filled with positive content. We need a break from the ceaseless hammering of the media. I suggest you feed your intellect by spiritual reading and feed your soul by prayer.”

“When we are silent and recollected, we are mysteriously visited. That is the moment when Christ reveals himself to us. And then he tells us about himself, his Father, and the Holy Spirit. Then we receive our knowledge from God himself because we have broken our heart open, and we have interiorized ourselves. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have entered into us, and dwell there. And we have prostrated ourselves before the Trinitarian God that dwells within us. In recollection, we listen, and God comes. And that is when we can begin to be a person of peace.”

“Just sit down some time and write what Christ asks you to do—and what you are doing. I do that periodically, and I am utterly surprised how completely I fail in what God wants me to do. And I am trying, I am honestly trying to live and do God’s will. Yet always I have an excuse, always there is something where I say, “Oh well, God didn’t mean that.” God meant it, but we do not want to accept it.”

“Let us begin Lent with a firm resolution to do just one thing: abolish the walls of our self-centeredness and selfishness.”

“If you allow sloth to come into you, you are not going to proclaim anything. Sloth is dissipation of our energy. It is also not being able to see the whole; it is the inability to have broad vision. How many people understand sloth in this way, have been given the real meaning? They think it is just laziness, whereas it is the negation of a whole vista of spiritual life into which we must enter.”

“Only to the humble does God reveal himself in the Holy Spirit. If we do not humble ourselves, we shall not see God. Humility is the light in which we may behold the Light, which is God. As the psalmist says: “In your light, we shall see light.””

“God is all-merciful. He does not ask me to atone because of fear. No. He asks me to atone because of love. He atoned for you and me on the cross. As St. Paul says, “You can make up what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ.” Nothing is wanting in the sufferings of Christ, but because I am in love with God, I can pick up others’ sufferings and carry them.”

This is a good volume and one I know I will return to again. I might read this again next year or allow a skip year. Many of the pieces in this volume are moving. They will inspire, encourage and challenge readers. They are well written. It is a book any Catholic would benefit from reading over the Lent and Easter season. A book I can easily recommend.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 Catholic Reading Plan

Books by Catherine de Hueck Doherty:
Apostolic Farming
Beginning Again: Recovering Your Innocence through Confession
Bogoroditza: She Who Gave Birth to God
Dear Father
Dear Seminarian
Dearly Beloved: Letters to the Children of My Spirit (3 Vol.)
Fragments of My Life
God in the Nitty-Gritty Life
Grace in Every Season
In the Footprints of Loneliness
In the Furnace of Doubts
Light in the Darkness
Living the Gospel Without Compromise
Molchanie: The Silence of God
Moments of Grace (perpetual calendar)
My Russian Yesterdays
Not Without Parables: Stories of Yesterday, Today and Eternity
On the Cross of Rejection
Our Lady’s Unknown Mysteries
People of the Towel and Water, The
Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer
Re-Entry Into Faith
Sobornost: Unity of Mind, Heart and Soul
Soul of My Soul: Coming to the Heart of Prayer
Strannik: The Call to the Pilgrimage of the Heart
Uródivoi: Holy Fools

No comments: