For the second time in my life I am reading Thomas Merton’s autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain.” I first picked it up purely by accident during my first week in the seminary, 1949. I am reading it again in 2017.
A guy who wanders around the desert in camel hair, eating bugs and tenaciously speaking truth to those in power captures my imagination. And yet, this year I find myself thinking not only of Saint John, but of the poor guy who, with no warning, was given the grizzly task of beheading Saint John.
We can only imagine the various moments of prayer in Mary and Joseph’s lives as they raised the young Jesus. We can likewise ponder the tone and content of her prayer as she accompanied her Son in his ministry, and especially during his passion and crucifixion. Lent calls us to renew our own conversation with God in prayer…
“I know I look forward to Lent, but I also know how I struggle to embrace its penitential nature. This is a stark reminder of how comfortable I have become with worldly things, and how lethargic is my spirit even in its thirst for God.”
Lent is upon us, and I have been inspired by the words of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in which they call us during this time to devote ourselves to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that “remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit.”
Is it possible to love and pray for those who offend us — even our enemies? Is it possible to suffer and find blessings even in persecution? I know of four people on the way to sainthood in the United States who exude such hope.
The point here is not to review general threats to Christian morality in Alaska but to call attention to a very specific challenge that should be on the radar of all parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents and others in positions of responsibility over today’s youth.
Since Adam and Eve we have lived with a great human contradiction. Is there anything therefore that can counter what seems to be our worst instincts? The answer seems rather clear: by necessity, it seems, we have law or a system of laws that help us live peacefully with one another.
This marks the sixth time since 1996 that the ACLU has sued the State of Alaska or one of its subdivisions over pro-life laws or policies. The ACLU has a proven track record: Alaska Supreme Court decisions stemming from ACLU abortion litigation have all ended by striking down pro-life measures.
So, my friends, when life often seems to resemble a dust bowl with not a sign of hope to be found, Christians gather in their churches to continue celebrating the year of grace all over again, a moment in time when we will see “the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.”