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First Week of Lent

March 10-16, 2019
Kathy McNany, OSB, Emmanuel Monastery, Baltimore

Fast from Paralysis, Feast on Freedom
Tending Freedom

There came before Jesus a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
—Luke 13: 10-13

And finally, never lose hope in God’s mercy.
—Rule of Benedict 4:74

A Poem to Ponder by Joyce Rupp (from “The Star in My Heart”)
Inside each of us there awaits a wonder full spirit of freedom
She waits to dance in the rooms of our heart that are closed dark and cluttered
She waits to dance in the spaces where negative feelings
have built barricades and stock piled weapons
She waits to dance in the corners where we still do not believe in our goodness
Inside each of us there awaits a wonder full spirit of freedom
She will lift light feet and make glad songs within us
on the day we open the door of ego and let the enemies stomp out.

Reflection: Fast from Paralysis, Feast on Freedom
Tending Freedom

Paralysis is defined as the loss of the ability to move, a state of powerlessness or incapacity to act. We would not make the choice to be physically paralyzed, yet we do make many choices that keep us spiritually paralyzed. The “should’s , ought to’s, won’ts, can’ts, must’s” that drive us; the negative feelings and unhealthy tapes that play within us, can all render us unfree. The struggle to be aware, the commitment to listen to what goes on in my spirit, can enable me to make choices that are not driven by my personal “unfreedoms.” The Buddhist’s say: “When anger finds you in the kitchen, don’t escort him to the dining room. Just because your emotions rise up, doesn’t mean you have to follow.”

For Your Pondering
To be paralyzed means to be unable to move. Are there areas in your life where you feel paralyzed?
What is your unique paralysis?
What prevents you from moving freely?

What would it look like/feel like for you to be free?
What would you be freed from?
What would you be freed for?

Imagine you are the bent over woman, unable to stand straight, able to see only a narrow frame of life.
What keeps you bent over, weighs you down?
What do you carry that needs to be lifted?

Imagine Jesus’ hands on your shoulders lifting you up. Stand before him, look into his eyes.
What does he say to you, and you to him?
What does the poem by Joyce Rupp say to you about your own paralysis/freedom?

Make yourself a “Should Jar.”
Each time you hear yourself “shoulding on yourself” put a bead, or seed or some ‘counting’ object in the jar.
At the end of the week, take stock.
A growing awareness of what motivates our choices can lead us to choose more freely.

Sister Kathy McNany is a Benedictine Sister of Baltimore and has been growing her monastic heart for 55 years. She is a spiritual director and retreat leader and has served in varied leadership roles in her community and in the Federation of St. Scholastica. Sister Kathy's reflections will offer insight on Scripture and invite you to make the words of the scripture writers your own as you ponder the thoughts and questions that she will offer you each week.