My main spiritual reading and guidance this Lent comes from the Jesuits at The Spiritual Exercises Blog. I have followed the Lenten Retreat they offer each Lent for the last three years. The exercises are based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola.
One of the exercises this past week that has stayed with me is one in which we are asked to reflect on our weakness in refusing love and while doing so to imagine ourselves before Christ dying on the cross. We then ask Him to reflect ourselves back to ourselves.
I found this very powerful and also painfully beautiful. Seeing myself before Love itself in my own weakness and inability to love, I didn't see or feel shame, guilt or His reproach; I saw myself reflected back though His eyes of love, mercy and compassion. It made me think of Mother Teresa's beautiful reflection I Thirst. What I saw in myself was the lack of love I so often have for myself and others and the answer to filling that lack. Looking past what was reflected back to me, I saw Christ's thirst for me, for each of us to accept His love and then give it freely as He was doing there on the cross.
I have come to learn, often the hard way, that we cannot love others, or even ourselves if we do not first accept the love of the Father that comes through Christ. In putting myself before the dying Christ this week, I was able to see my own weakness, but reflected back to me through Christ's eyes the reflection was tempered with His love, mercy and compassion.
I can leave the scene of the Cross and think back to what is revealed on Mt. Tabor. Jesus revealed His glory to Peter, James and John that day to strengthen them for what they would witness in His Passion and Death. He strengthened them for what would come in their own lives: Peter to lead the Church, John to go from his youth to live in exile in his old age, and James for his martyrdom.
account of The Transfiguration during Lent, but I see it is to strengthen us as well. To come down from that mountain and walk with Christ to the Cross where we can see His ultimate example of love and see ourselves reflected back to us through that love.