Friday, March 28, 2014

This Year for Lent, I Lit the Beacon of Gondor

One of my favorite scenes in the film "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is the lighting of the beacons scene.  Although the film takes some creative liberties and departs a bit from the actual text, the scene is really brilliant.  The beacons of Gondor were an alarm system whereby if an enemy attacked, the beacons would be lighted as a distress signal.  This alarm system allowed Gondor to call for help when Gondor was about to fall.  You can check out the scene by clicking below.

This year for Lent, I've tried to deepen my own prayer life by spending more time in Eucharistic Adoration.  When I think of all of the ways that I need to grow in holiness, the virtues I need to deepen, and the vices I need to uproot, nothing seems more helpful towards achieving those ends than in spending more time in the presence of the Lord.  But, I am weak, lazy, and easily distracted.  Lenten resolves often devolve into Lenten regrets!  But this year, these hours of adoration have been steady, strong, and fruitful.  

One of the reasons Lent has been so good for me this year is because I lit the beacon.   How so?  I've invited others to share my Holy Hours with me.  In the film, you see one beacon after another being lit all along a mountain range.  These beacons must have been a source of consolation.  It indicated that "You are not alone.  Help is on the way!"  Similarly, each time one of the students or staff of the Boston University Catholic Center arrives into the Holy Hour with me--whether they stay for the full hour or for five minutes--they are like a beacon of encouragement.  Being together in prayer each day has been a great source of strength and joy.  Their presence reminds me that we are in this together.

I've never much cared for a model of priesthood that turns the priest into a "professional spiritual care provider."  I much prefer the model proposed by Pope Francis--the priest in front of the sheep, leading; in the midst of the sheep, living it together; and behind the sheep, encouraging the stragglers.  The places where I am assigned to serve as a priest are also the places where I am called to be sanctified.  These persons--whether they be twice as old as me or half my age--are the people who help me to grow in holiness.  I hope that by living my life in front of them, it encourages them as much as witnessing their example encourages me. 

Spending time with the Eucharistic Lord has helped make this Lent (so far) a beautiful one.  Showing up for prayer, not dozing off (much!) or being too distracted during prayer, and making this time of prayer fruitful has been greatly assisted by doing it in the company of others.  The example of these young people has kept me strong and made me hopeful.  Their presence at prayer has been a beacon of light and of warmth for me.  Living Lent in their companionship is a beautiful grace.

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