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Spirituality

Poetry provides spiritual nourishment in these sparest days of Lent

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The statues and crucifixes in our churches this week will be draped with purple sheets. The sparest days of Lent, the church's annual retreat, are upon us.

The sight of these hooded saints feels appropriate to me this year, for rather than giving up some material attachment during Lent, I've tried to let go of some of the old images that have attached themselves, in my mind, to God.

The mind of Christ

The late Rudolph Bultmann often remarked, "A Gospel is simply a Passion/Resurrection narrative with a dozen or more introductory chapters." That means today's Gospel pericope is the first part of the most important passage in Mark's Gospel. Yet, because of this particular day's ceremonies and time limits, we rarely hear a homily of any suitable length on it. And when we actually think about Jesus' suffering and death, we're frequently reflecting on the 14 Stations of the Cross, not on the four Gospel Passion narratives.

Spiritual obedience means listening deeply to God

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In the Gospel lesson, Jesus reminds us, as he had proclaimed many times before to his disciples, "If you really want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me." And if we listen carefully and deeply to the lessons of today for a few moments, I think we will discover in a very deep way what Jesus means by that, and also we will be aware of the challenge it takes truly to follow Jesus. And first of all, I think it's important for us to realize that in what Jesus is to undergo.

No matter the cost

This coming week, we will mark the 35th anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero. His life offers a key to understanding the readings of this last "ordinary" Sunday of Lent. According to those who knew him, Romero was always a faithful priest and bishop, totally dedicated to being a pastor and servant of God. His area of growth in holiness, like ours, was to amplify his perspective, to understand with the heart of God. Before speaking more of him, we turn to today's Scripture.

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March 27-April 9, 2015

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