Tuesday, February 28, 2017

LENT AT SLU - With you on the Way

Dear members of the SLU family,

Thank you for joining us as we begin our Lenten journey of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, preparing ourselves to participate in the Paschal Mystery with Jesus. We invite you to check back every day to read reflections on the season by fellow students, faculty members, and staff. Take some time to read about the programming that we offer throughout Lent - reading groups, celebrations of the Stations of the Cross, discussion circles, and more.

While we offer our Lenten programming to aid you in your journey, we know that the gospel demands not only that we change ourselves, but that we be agents of the coming of the reign of God in the world around us. In this moment in our history, a moment that is so saturated with violence and misunderstanding, we pray that the performance of the rituals and disciplines of Lent will be the catalysts and the outward manifestations of true and lasting change of heart. We see in our country a wave of anti-Semitic threats and acts of destruction at Jewish cemeteries; a rise in anti-Muslim violence and burnings of mosques; hateful speech and actions against immigrants and refugees; threats to the safety of members of the LGBTQ+ community; continued indifference to the deep-seated racism in our midst; and so many other manifestations of our need for conversion of heart and life. These are not unrelated - far from it - to the urgent proclamation of the reign of God that led Jesus to the cross, and which lays central claim to our lives as people of God.

Now is the time to reach out in solidarity to the stranger, to wash one another's feet, to break bread with those who misunderstand us and who we so often misunderstand.

With you on the way,

Patrick Cousins
Assistant Director,
Department of Campus Ministry

Friday, February 24, 2017

Reflection for March 24, 2017

Friday of the Third Week of Lent
HOS 14: 2-10
PS 81: 6C- 8A, 8BC-9, 10-11 AB, 14 and 17
MT 4:17
MK 12: 28-34

As a Jesuit Volunteer in Syracuse, NY, I had the wonderful blessing of being a L’Arche assistant in a home where persons with and without disabilities live and create home together. This community of folks taught me so much about relationship and about love and about faith. One of the core members, a man with intellectual disabilities who lived in one of the homes, always offered up prayers for L’Arche communities around the world when we would gather. For him, faith was about an outpouring of love, love for his housemates, for L’Arche, and for God, and he was always reminding me that my own faith has grown and continues to grow from its roots in love.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus establishes the two most important commandments, both of which focus on how people of faith are called to love. Jesus responds to an inquiring scribe, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The scribe agrees with Jesus, and adds that following these two directives to love God and to love one’s neighbor "is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

I think that this reading points to the heart of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection and to the heart of the Lenten season. Today’s Gospel points to the central call for all of us to love. For my friend from L’Arche, faith is not just about piety; it is about caring for one another in wholeness and in brokenness. For him, living out the Gospel is not about punishment for those who do not adhere strictly enough; it is about choosing to love as an imperfect response to the unimaginable, perfect love that God has for all of us.

I feel that Lent is a time to deepen and cultivate our love for God, our love for neighbors, and our openness to neighbors who we have failed to recognize before. I hope that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving guide me and all of us toward greater love and renewed commitment to the neighbors among us who are most vulnerable and marginalized.

Questions to Guide Reflection and Prayer:

1.      What experiences have shaped the ways you love God and your neighbors?
2.      Who do you consider and love as your “neighbor?” Who have you failed to recognize and love as a “neighbor?”
3.      How are you called to love this Lent? How are the communities of which you are a part called to love?

Emily Cybulla is a first year medical student at SLU. She graduated in 2015 from Loyola University Chicago and served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Syracuse, NY at L’Arche, an intentional community of folks with and without disabilities, before starting at SLU.