Lent & Easter - Page 11

A School of Charity

By Alyce Shields

We are only a few weeks into our Lenten sojourn, and I’m not sure about your experience so far, but I know that it has already been a challenge for me. And that’s good! I wanted this Lent to more closely unite me to the Cross of Christ, not just for these forty days, but beyond, and God is answering this prayer in ways that I could never expect. In fact, he is delivering me from my own crosses so that I may know joy through this suffering.

So far, I’ve been able to take away two important lessons from my Lenten journey so far:

1.) “Lent is a school of charity. Life is a school of charity.”

2.) Where my roots are planted determine how I will be conscious of God bearing me through this school of charity.

Life is hard. Our days are filled with many demands, and sometimes we fail to meet them. People will disappoint us. We may hurt others by our words or actions. We find ourselves at times feeling hopeless. But the one who hopes in the Lord knows that all of these trials bring us to the Cross and teach us sacrificial love. A priest once told me, “Lent is a school of charity. Life is a school of charity.” As we navigate these crosses, God is literally stretching our hearts to be open to love –

so that when we reach heaven, our hearts are like Christ’s. And if he stretches our hearts through pain and sorrow, imagine how much God stretches our hearts through hope and joy! Through every trial and every gift we are being molded to become more Christ-like, capable of infinite love. If we could truly fathom this infinite love that God is preparing us for, we would live life on our knees in awe of the Cross. Truly we can say that life is a school of love, a school of charity.

Many of the readings during Lent teach us how we can plant our roots to let the Lord more fully direct our lives. We are consistently given the image of a tree whose roots are planted near running water. This tree’s leaves never fade, and in even drought, it still bears fruit. For me, this tree represents my cross, whose confidence must rely solely in the Lord. God can only keep my leaves evergreen if I live off of his waters, God will perform miracles in my life if I let him. This takes confidence and prayer. In this school of charity, I’ve learned that even the simplest of prayers can help me submit to God each day: “Multiply my time, Lord,” or “Let me see you where you need me to.” When I say these prayers and trust God to fulfill them, he does. He’s stretching my heart to know his love.

As you pray today over your takeaways from Lent so far, I pray that you come to find peace in how the Lord is trying to carry your cross through His school of charity, and that you call upon the grace to let him do so. I pray that you reflect on where your tree is planted and that you want to live by God’s living streams. Ultimately, I pray that you know how loved you are. You are so loved that God is stretching your heart so that you may become more like him. He wants you to know infinite love, who is our Lord Jesus himself. “I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love" (Ephesians 3:17-18).