This month I am delighted to welcome Fr. Jacques Philippe as our guest writer. Fr. Jacques is a member of a religious community in France called the Community of the Beatitudes. So it’s no surprise that in his articles, he focuses on the Beatitudes from Matthew 5, especially the first: Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Preparing for Lent. In about twenty days, we will begin the season of Lent, and I think that you are going to find this issue a great preparation for that time. There are three Sundays in February before Ash Wednesday arrives, so here’s an easy way that you can prepare:
- On the weekend of February 5, read “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit: Learning the Way of Jesus” on page 4.
- On the weekend of February 12, you can read “Receive a New Heart: The Rich Fruit of Becoming Poor in Spirit” on page 10.
- And on the weekend of February 19, you can read “Blessed Are You: Living the Beatitudes” on page 16.
On each weekend, you can make these articles part of your prayer as you prepare for Sunday Mass. As you do, you will find that, no matter your circumstances, your living situation, or your financial situation, the Lord is inviting you to be poor in Spirit. And in doing so, he is promising you his kingdom, which is worth more than any treasure.
Who Is Poor in Spirit? I suspect that I’m not the only one who prefers to be in control of his life. I am most comfortable when I have plans in place and decisions made. Conversely, I don’t like it when I lose control of a situation or when I don’t know what’s going to happen. And these days, almost every week seems to bring some new challenge. When that happens, I don’t really like having to rely on God. But here’s what Fr. Jacques tells me:
Who is this poor person? He or she is someone who is going through a difficult time and, because of this, can only rely on God. He is alone and fragile. He . . . is no longer in control of his situation. In the end, there is only one thing left to do: to cry out to God, to rely upon God. This can happen to poor people in the usual sense of the word, but it can also happen to people who are materially wealthy.
There is only one thing left to do: to cry out to God, to rely on God. As we prepare for Lent, let’s make this part of our prayer each day: “Lord, I give you my every concern, every worry, every situation that I cannot control today. Help me to rely only on you.” When we pray in this way, we imitate Jesus, who relied totally on his heavenly Father. We imitate the One who “offered prayers . . . with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him” (Hebrews 5:7). May we all become poor in spirit, like our Master!