READINGS FOR LENT: 'OLD AND NEW'
I. Vocation and Discernment
Jesus is walking in our midst, as he did in Galilee. He walks through our streets, and he quietly stops and looks into our eyes. His call is attractive and intriguing. Yet today the stress and quick pace of a world constantly bombarding us with stimuli can leave no room for the interior silence in which we can perceive Jesus' gaze and hear his call. In the meantime, many attractively packed offers will come your way. They may seem appealing and exciting, although in time they will only leave you feeling empty, weary and alone. Don't let this happen to you, because the maelstrom of this world can drive you to take a route without real meaning, without direction, without clear goals, and thus thwart many of your efforts. It is better to seek out that calm and quiet that enable you to reflect, pray, look more clearly at the world around you, and then, with Jesus, come to recognise the vocation that is yours in this world.
I mentioned there that all of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend. Indeed, this is all the more important when some novelty presents itself in our lives. Then we have to decide whether it is new wine brought by God or an illusion created by spirit of this world or the spirit of the devil.
Such discernment, even though it includes reason and prudence, goes beyond them, for it seeks a glimpse of that unique an mysterious plan that God has for each of us... It has to do with the meaning of my life before the Father who knows and loves me, and with the real purpose of my life, which nobody knows better than he'
(From Pope Francis' letter to young people, Christ Is Alive, articles 277-279)
II. Bishop NIkolai Velimirovic, 'The fear of the Lord'
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But, if a person has not begun aright, how shall he/she finish aright? If a man has followed the wrong path from the beginning, he must go back and find the beginning, setting his feet on the right path. he who has not the fear of God cannot have love for God. The greatest ascetics, torturers of self who spent forty or fifty years in incessant ascetism, day and night, were filled with the fear of God right up to the time of their death; and these, the most sinless of mortals, cried out in the hour of death: 'Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!'
The fear of the Lord is the salt of devotion. If this salt is lacking, all our devotion is insipid and tepid. The fear of the Lord girds up the loins, encircles the waist, gives the heart sobriety, curbs the mind and chastises self will. Where is repentance without the fear of the Lord? Where is humility? Where is restraint? Where are chastity and patience, service and obedience?
Oh, my brothers and sisters, let us embrace this teaching as holy truth: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
(Bishop Nikolai Velemirovic, Prolog, 2 June)
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..