by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
The Ongoing Journey
In many ways, I find it hard to believe that today, I begin my third year
with all of you, sharing both my personal reflections on Spirituality and
the role of the Holy Spirit in my life/ministry. Over these two years, the
rewards of this journey have been many. I have been gifted with severe
personal pain physical suffering that has amplified my spiritual growth;
aroused my compassion for the handicapped and generated new visions for
sharing pain and suffering with all of you.
Additionally, I have been
challenged with the joy and struggles of being one of the few Deacons to
administer a parish in the absence of a priest. Of course, I thank Aneel Aranha, the founder of HSI,
and all of the readers for the great sharing via frequent correspondence and
continuing prayer, plus, many other spiritual gifts flowing from people
throughout the world.
So, let’s continue with where it all started—the Lenten Journey. The daily
fuel of our personal journey with the Lord called “grace” flows from our
very personal relationship with Our Lord and in our daily encounters with
the People of God the backbone of our Catholic faith. The season of Lent,
like all of the Church’s seasons, provides another opportunity to travel on
a journey within ourselves to strengthen the bonds relationships with both
God and our Christian community. So, let’s look at our personal journeys
with Christ during this upcoming season of Lent.
A Call to the Interior
We are all different and that is most evident in where our life's journey
may take us. Some travel to many countries of the world or others are
called to stay within a few miles from their birthplace. Regardless of the
travel and experience, we all encounter and love the Lord in our own special
and unique ways.
For me, I am many miles from my birthplace of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as
I minister and live in Omaha, Nebraska. Omaha in the wintertime can be a
frosty and chilly place. This year, this unusual wintry setting is in sharp
contrast to our ordinary winter. As I write, the winter winds are howling;
the white snowfall covers the landscape and our temperature has not been
above the freezing point for over a week. The barren trees, covered with
snow; the frozen rivers and the biting wind all dominate our environment.
This kind of weather calls most of us to limit our outside experiences
because it is too cold to enjoy the outdoors. (It is also a time to pray
for the homeless, that they are healed of their particular afflictions and
that life will improve for all of them.) Gloves, scarves, heavy coats and
boots are the clothes we wear to survive. For most, we limit our time in
the outdoors by staying inside and slowing down our lives.
Specifically, this time inside is a life within boundaries. Yet, living
inside is a temporary state that we know will pass and eventually lead us to
a greater appreciation of the outdoors. We take new perspectives and often
new activities in this short interior time. In much the same way, Lent
calls us to set aside time from our experiences and look at our interior
lives in a different way.
The Lenten Journey
This journey to the interior of the winter is much like the interior Lenten
journey with God that our Church calls us to do each year. The interior
part of our journey happens when we take the time to admit that all our
surroundings must change and to look deeply inside to a quieter place
outside the ordinary surroundings. Even though it may seem uncomfortable to
travel inside ourselves, a pathway can be set by releasing our troubles to
the Holy Spirit. Faith and trust in God is the key! It is in this
awareness that the spiritual rewards can be discovered.
For some it is slowing the pace of our daily routine to make change evolve
while for others a new commitment of daily prayer fasting and almsgiving is
the call to an interior quiet. Along with our Catholic community, we can
take advantage of some of our Church’s Lenten gifts by participating with
our brothers and sisters at devotions like daily Mass, Eucharistic Devotions
and Stations of the Cross.
Ultimately, it is in the interior life that we find a place to be more
aware. So, as we continue our journey through our forty days of Lent, let
us break away from the ordinary and take our own personal walks into
ourselves. It is there that we can be more present to the Lord.
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- Where in my interior life do I most need to "let go to God" so that I
can more appreciate the community I am serving?
- In my Lenten journey, how can I model the Church’s Lenten practices and
the Holy Spirit's love to those I minister?
From a Family Perspective:
- Where does my family most need to "let go to God?"
- In my Domestic Church’s as parent, sibling, widow or single, how can I
model the Church’s Lenten practices and the Holy Spirit's love?
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
E-mail this article to a friend