Week 2: Lenten Retreat

Written by Ann Burns

March 6, 2023

When the Villains are Beautiful

“Now put aside all earthly cares.”

On Sunday, my husband and I went to Divine Liturgy.  The prayers are so rich, and this particular Sunday, I was struck by the words “now put aside all earthly cares” as we prepared ourselves for the Sacrifice of the Mass. 

Are my earthly cares injuring my relationship with God?  

Am I more caught up in pursuing an earthly crown as opposed to a Heavenly one?

What are the things preventing me from growing closer to God?

Do I reject His love believing on some level that my sins are too great or questioning whether I am truly loved by God?


“You were made by God and for God.”


Do I lack trust or confidence in God?  


Does a call to holiness seem like too much?  Do I find myself stumbling over questions like, “What will I have to give up?  What potentially scary thing might God be asking me to do (that maybe i’m not okay with)?”


Am I more concerned with the world’s approval of me rather than God’s approval? 


Am I simply too busy to find time for God? 


Am I clinging desperately to earthly cares or am I clinging lovingly to my Heavenly Father?


Take time this week to seriously consider these questions.  Sit and ponder them in prayer, or write out answers in a journal.  What does your relationship with God look like?  Do you radically trust Him, or are you consumed by anxieties, a need to be in control, enslaved to a to-do list?

Learning to prioritize God is not easy.  It means uprooting the things that are not of God.  Yes, we will need to “give up” the things that prevent us from growing closer to Him.  Maybe it’s gossip, or complaining, perhaps vanity; maybe it’s certain friends, or obsessively checking the news; maybe we’ll find that we need to cut back on drinking.  We might find that we are not being truly honest with ourselves.  All of these encounters can be difficult.  Uprooting the bad is often a painful process, but we need to pull out the weeds so something beautiful can flourish. 

But we need to encounter our littleness — recognize our littleness and that we are capable of even less.  In doing so, we can see that Christ loves our littleness and asks that we detach ourselves from the things that keep us stumbling and attach ourselves to His loving care. 

Our holiness is ultimately God’s project.  We just need to say yes. 

Oftentimes, what prevents us from growing closer to God is a lack of Faith. We fail to recognize God as our loving, Heavenly Father who desires us to be eternally happy with Him.  He loves us into existence. 

  When we discover a lack of virtue within us, we should turn joyously to God and ask Him to help us grow.  God delights in giving us the things we need to attain Heaven.  


Here is an excerpt from Total Abandonment to Divine Providence:


“If only we had faith we should show good-will to all creatures; we should cherish them and be interiorly grateful to them as serving, by God’s will, for our perfection. If we lived the life of faith without intermission we should have an uninterrupted commerce with God and a constant familiar intercourse with Him. What the air is for the transmission of our thoughts and words, such would be our actions and sufferings for those of God. They would be as the substance of His words, and in all external events we should see nothing but what was excellent and holy. This union is effected on earth by faith, in Heaven by glory; the only difference is in the method of its working. God is interpreted by faith. Without the light of faith creation would speak to us in vain. It is a writing in cypher in which we find nothing but confusion, and entangled mesh from which no one would expect to hear the voice of God. But as Moses saw the fire of divine charity in the burning bush, so faith gives us the clue to the cypher, and reveals to us, in this mass of confusion, marvels of divine wisdom. Faith changes the face of the earth; by it the heart is raised, entranced and becomes conversant with heavenly things. Faith is our light in this life. By it we possess the truth without seeing it; we touch what we cannot feel, and see what is not evident to the senses. By it we view the world as though it did not exist. It is the key of the treasure house, the key of the abyss of the science of God. It is faith that teaches us the hollowness of created things; By it God re- veals and manifests Himself in all things. By faith the veil is torn aside to reveal the eternal truth.

All that we see is nothing but vanity and deceit; truth can be found only in God. What a difference between the thoughts of God and the illusions of man! How is it that although continually warned that everything that happens in the world is but a shadow, a figure, a mystery of faith, we look at the outside only and do not perceive the enigma they contain?

We fall into this trap like men without sense instead of raising our eyes to the principle, source and origin of all things, in which they all have their right name and just proportions, in which everything is supernatural, divine, and sanctifying; in which all is part of the plenitude of Jesus Christ, and each circumstance is as a stone towards the construction of the heavenly Jerusalem, and all helps to build a dwelling for us in that marvelous city.

We live according to what we see and feel and wander like madmen in a labyrinth of darkness and illusion for want of the light of faith which would guide us safely through it. By means of faith we should be able to aspire after God and to live for Him alone, forsaking and going beyond mere figures.”


Week’s homework: continue taking time to cultivate the Presence of God.  Find the time to prayerfully go over the questions regarding what is preventing you from prioritizing God.

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