Pathways through Lent

God in the Waves

by Molly Chabalowski

The Third Thursday of Lent

[John Donne, Priest, 1631]

Jeremiah 10:11-24 Psalms 42, 43, 85, 86 Romans 5:12-21 John 8:21-32

When my husband, Cary, and I married during graduate school, our two worlds of music and science entwined and I first learned a little about the field of theoretical quantum chemistry. Even I, the musician, knew that the molecular world is made of atoms, which are composed of ever smaller bits of charged particles. But I hadn’t given much thought to the idea that we, and all things, are fundamentally made up of electromagnetic waves, which interact with other electromagnetic waves emanating from all the rest of creation. Theoretically, therefore, nothing is truly separate from anything else.

I have expanded my elementary knowledge of this theory (my apologies to the real scientists) and incorporated it into my spiritual thought. If everything is ultimately waves, the electrical impulses of our thoughts as well as the motions of our bodies reverberate through the universe. What a profound premise! This puts a whole new spin (or wave length) on “love your neighbor as yourself.” If waves connect everything, is that how prayer is conveyed and answered? How miracles happen? How love is eternal? How life continues after death?

Soundwave image from Wikimedia Commons

I do believe that God is within the very essence of our being, of all that is and shall be. Eugene Peters translates Jesus’ words in today’s reading in John 8:21-32 as follows: “You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you are missing God in all this.” Viva the God of Light (waves)!

Pathways through Lent

Be Open. Be Present. Be Loving.

by Lisa Kirchenbauer

The Third Wednesday of Lent

Jeremiah 8:18-9:6 Psalm 81, 82, 119:97-120 Romans 5:1-11 John 8:12-20

At the beginning of each year for the last five years or so, as I prepare for the Lenten season, I have listened quietly and deeply for a message that I will follow for that year. The messages have often built upon the prior year. Last year was, “A gentle heart opens many doors.” It was a good reminder to me that by being gentle and non-judgmental I can open up relationships and opportunities and find grace.

My message this year is a simple chant…

Be Open, Be Loving, Be Present

Be Open, Be Present, Be Loving

  • Be Open…to the possibilities, to God’s will, to another’s heart
  • Be Present…so that I can clearly hear my calling, so that I am aware of my true feelings, so that I can truly connect with others
  • Be Loving…because it is a better and easier way, because my children and husband need it from me, and because the entire world needs more love these days

Although I may not always remember my mantra, it serves to focus me and remind me of what is important and how I can live a more Christian life. Through meditation and prayer, we each have the ability to reconnect with ourselves, to discover our purpose in this world and begin to put this mission into place. Please join me as I strive to live this year’s message to the fullest!

Pathways through Lent

Getting Over Ourselves

by Pat Cookson

The Third Tuesday of Lent

[John Keble, Priest, 1866]

Jeremiah 7:21-34 Psalm 78 Romans 4:13-25 John 7:37-52

Man cannot get over himself. We make ourselves the central focus of the world in which we live whether we are looking at ourselves as individuals or as a state. There is no better example of this than the British writer and historian Paul Johnson. In his book Modern Times Johnson shows how, over the centuries, man’s rejection of religion and lofty conviction that it is only through the state that humanity’s condition can be improved leads to spectacular failure every time. One of the most notable symbols of such failure during the last century was the fall of the Berlin Wall. We continue, however, unimpeded in our arrogant belief that we have solutions to every problem here on earth and that man is capable of understanding all the mysteries of the universe without God’s help. Yet how can we begin to contemplate the existence of more than 80 billion galaxies outside of our own Milky Way or what lies at the event horizon of a black hole?

Milky Way
Milky Way from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

There are very few worthwhile things in this life that can be had cheaply. Why then should it require any less diligence to make Jesus Christ the central focus of our lives? It takes work and most often it is with deep reluctance that most undertake extra labor. However, Lent invites us to let go of our self-centeredness and enter into Christ, to live his ideas, his character, his spirit and his being. We are reminded that our greatest hope for ourselves as individuals and for the work we do to make this world a better place of our fellow man lies in our closeness to Christ Jesus.

Pathways through Lent

Don’t forget the Father…

by Linda McKay

The Third Monday of Lent

Jeremiah 7:1-15 Psalms 77, 79, 80 Romans 4:1-12 John 7:14-36

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (2 Philippians 4:6-7)

“You forgot the father” my three-year-old granddaughter exclaimed as I was hurriedly serving dinner to her older brother, sisters and a number of their friends. Since her parents were out, I thought she was talking about her “earthly father” and that I should save some dinner for him.

Her older sister explained that she meant we forgot to say the prayer and with that we bowed our heads and her sister began their family prayer with “Dear Father…”

My granddaughter’s four words have become a wonderful reminder to me of the importance of taking time to connect with our heavenly father in meaningful prayer no matter how busy I am. Time to express gratitude for his support and love, to think of others before we think of ourselves, to pray for loved ones and those in need, and to find courage and strength to face the challenges that tests one’s mind, body and spirit on a daily basis.

The Lenten season calls us to be more committed and focused to do just that. Pathways through Lent gives us a wonderful resource to encourage daily devotion and prayer. What is more important is to carry this commitment throughout the year using prayer to guide our thoughts and actions every day and not forget to take meaningful time connecting to God our heavenly father.

Pathways through Lent

Following Jesus, even in Washington?

by Laura Ballman

The Second Saturday of Lent

Jeremiah 5:20-31 Psalms 23, 27, 75, 76 Romans 3:19-31 John 7:1-13

In John 7:1-13, Jesus and his followers demonstrate critical thinking and practical prudence, both of which help maintain their spiritual callings. Specifically, security concerns following a spate of His public testimony force Jesus to postpone traveling to the feast of the tabernacles in Galilee; consequently, His followers go ahead without Him and struggle to maintain their faith. None even dare speak publicly about Jesus for fear of retribution. Yet they continue to follow Him quietly and with faith.

Clearly, following Christ was difficult when He walked the Earth⎯and I don’t think it’s any easier today for those of us who are human and, as such, are to some degree always concerned about public image, popularity, and cultural norms. But perhaps this tension and ensuing struggle to stay true to one’s Christian values in the face of unpopularity and potential derision is useful. Perhaps it is especially useful in Washington, to which so many of us flock to change the world and quickly discover that pursuing our Christian beliefs and intentions is futile without some critical thinking, smart timing, and prudent, practical attention to security, bureaucracy, and other facets of realpolitik.

Galilee today
Galilee today is a bit more tranquil. (Photo by Mike Angell)

In sum, I think John 7:1-13 reminds Christians that the real world and the spiritual world are not mutually exclusive. Ergo the practicality associated with our daily lives does not have to diminish our faith or commitment to follow Christ.


Pathways through Lent

The Annunciation

by Jeremy Skog

The Second Friday of Lent

The Annunciation

Jeremiah 5:1-9 Psalms 69, 73 Romans 2:25-3:18 John 5:30-47

Arnold Toynbee is credited with saying that Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder. In our Civilization, one of the most popular artistic subjects has been the Annunciation, today’s feast celebrating the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus. I suspect a reason for this popularity is that artists acutely feel the challenge and burden of the need to create and at the same time wish to inspire us to do the same.

All of us are constantly called to face challenges in our lives. We are not called because we are particularly worthy, as the passages make clear: “There is none righteous, no, not one” or “I can of mine own self do nothing.” We never really feel as ready as we could be for any task, but what matters most is that we are willing to try.

This is what I see as the challenge of the Annunciation: will we take up the call, no matter how impossible it may seem?

The Annunciation by Pietro Cavallini (image from Wikimedia Commons)

While many see Lent as a time of denial, I have always preferred positive, improving resolutions: “tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther” simply, be better than we are today, but only if we put ourselves in the position to be tested.

As Toynbee noted, the greatest challenge is not that we might fail, but that we might not have the drive to try. Thus, today we are asked, will we be willing to bear the cost? As Mary replied, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

Pathways through Lent

Romero and Resurrection (Scroll down for English)

by Mike Angell

The Second Thursday of Lent

[Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, 1980, and the Martyrs of El Salvador]

Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28 Psalms 70, 71, 74 Romans 2:12-24 John 5:19-29

Oscar Romero fue nombrado Arzobispo de El Salvador en 1977, en tiempos de conflicto. Roma pensaba que fue un hombre callado y estudioso quien no iba a ser involucrado en el político. Pero, de repente, todo cambió. Rutilio Grande, un sacerdote jesuita y amigo del Msr. Romero fue asesinado por su ministerio cerca de los campesinos pobres quienes estaban clamando por libertad de la pobreza. Grande y Romero no fueron Comunistas. Sospecharon que Marx no creía en Dios ni en la agencia humana, pero en la lucha de los pobres escucharon la llamada de Jesus para cuidar “los hermanos mas pequeños.” Cuando asesinaron a Grande, Romero se puso furioso. Empezó a declarar que los militares y el gobierno tenían que “cesar la represión.” Romero predico por el radio, y acompañó al pobre. En el día de 24 de Marzo, 1980, solo tres años después de ser creado como arzobispo, Romero fue asesinado como mártir. Los espantos hubieron llegando hace meses. Antes de ser asesinado Romero dijo, “Si me matan, resucitaré en el pueblo Salvadoreño.” Entendió su muerte potencial, y porque tenia fe en la resurrección, sabia que la muerte no fue el final.

La muerte de Msgr. Romero empezó la guerra civil. El pueblo reclamo su voz. Un mes a partir de hoy vamos a celebrar la Pascua, la fiesta de la resurrección. Que Santo Oscar y toda/os que han muerto por el Reino de Dios nos inspira para vivir para los demás.

Oscar Romero's tomb, President Obama visited on Wednesday (Photo by Mike Angell)

English Translation:

Oscar Romero was chosen as Archbishop of El Salvador in 1977 at a time of great conflict. Rome thought he was a quiet bookworm who wouldn’t make trouble. But soon after his election, a close friend of Romero’s, a Jesuit named Rutilio Grande, was assassinated for his work with campesinos who sought freedom from poverty. Grande and Romero were no communists. They were suspicious of Marx’s denial of God and of human agency, but they heard in the cries of the poor the call of Jesus to care for the “least of these.” When Grande was killed, Romero was outraged. He began demanding that the military and the government “cease the repression!” Romero preached on the radio, and stood with the poor. On March 24, 1980, just three years after being named archbishop, Romero was assassinated, martyred. The threats had been coming for months. Before he died Romero said famously, “If they kill me, I will resurrect in the Salvadoran people.” He understood his own potential death. Because he had faith in Christ’s resurrection, he knew death wasn’t the end of the story.

Romero´s death set off the Salvadoran Civil war. The people rose up to claim their own voice. One month from today, we will celebrate Easter, the feast of the Resurrection. May Oscar, and all those who have laid down their lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God, inspire us to live for others.