The inner lent

The conversion series I

What can you tell me about Lent?

In a way, life can be seen as a Lent, as the preparation for the final step, Easter, resurrection. It will be good to internalize Lent. Giving the body some fasting never hurts; it shows us the dependence we have on food as a means to appease anxieties, it exposes our slavery to acquired habits and customs. The main purification that fasting or some deprivation shows us; It results from this awareness that brings us back a bit to humility. It places us with more criteria in the reality that we live and not in which we believe we live.

What reality do we live in? Dependency. Endless desires that have become needs. It is no longer the need of drinking water but rather this or that flavored drink. It is no longer eating what we need but that particular dish that we want so much and that the more we taste the more we desire. And just as doing the exercise of depriving the body of something habitual puts us in the presence of the submission in which we live to its impulses; giving the mind some fasting leaves us surprised; we notice the vagabond sleeper in which we usually remain.

What would it be to fast in the mind?

Stop ruminating the same old thoughts. Stop always thinking about the same things as if in that chewing of tensions the problems were going to be solved. Recognize that, in the same way that we usually eat a certain sweet for breakfast, thoughts tend to run along the same old path, more or less at the same times. We always tend to eat the same thing, dependent as we are on such aromas and flavors. Likewise, we always tend to “think” the same thing, dependent as we are on certain “worrying” sensations that, if they were not present, would reveal the emptiness of meaning in our daily lives.

Disregarding the thoughts that appears and directing your attention to your inner purpose is a formidable mental fast. For example, directing our attention to the way of prayer to which we have consecrated ourselves or towards the perception of the presence of the divine in what happens, or simply, concentrating on doing the best possible with what we have in hand at the moment; it is continuous conversion. Grabbing the attention that escapes us, again and again and bringing it back home, to the heart and taking it where we really want to deposit it, is fasting, almsgiving, purification and Lent of the soul. 

Who remains present at the site of care, tends to eat less naturally, only what is necessary. From this attentive awareness, others are listened to more and a kind of spontaneous charity appropriate to each situation arises. This same vigilance shows us the constant pettiness that traps us and then we are more humble, but without sadness. It is a take off your makeup and look straight ahead and find yourself unconditionally love right there. This liturgical season is supposed as an opportunity for conversion, for profound change … to stop defending an image, to stop pretending, to let go of care and to abandon the vain reasons that bind us to suffering is to become authentic and true penance.

Extract from elsantonombre.org


Leave what is left

The outside shows the inside. In reality we are a unit and everything that happens in our life is closely related to what happens in the soul. Don’t we see that when our house or room is messy , this coincides with a messy mood? We have all lived it. Organizing on the outside harmonizes the forces within us and calming the mind and emotions leads us to be precise and attentive on the outside.

But the necessary background for all this is the desire for a simple life. When we manage what is necessary, everything becomes simple. Simple habits, clear behaviors and a growing freedom from circumstances are installed in our day.Avoiding complications, abandoning everything that is left over, choosing silence whenever possible, calms down the passions that separate us from God and bring us closer to the only passion that does not know disappointment, the devotion that burns in the heart.

We actually all love God very much. We do not realize much because that deep bond has been translated to us in different ways that disguise that love. But as some monks say in Philocalia: it is God himself who we look for when we are in a hurry after a certain thing, person or situation. Can we marvel at a delicious meal without remembering who cooked it ? Can we admire a landscape, a spring morning or the aroma of the humid earth without thinking about the Creator of it?

How about that person who we love so much, is it not sustained in the will of God? Who do we think looks at us through the eyes of a child or anyone else? He alone. God is truly present in every moment. He shows himself to us in everything. However we have lethargic the senses of the soul that are what allow us to perceive it from this world. How to remove the veil that opaque them?It is important to start simplifying everything. Differentiate need from desire. Slow down. Not committing ourselves to many things. And give the moments of prayer or silence the value they have. 

But we will not give real value to specific moments of prayer if we do not learn to get out of the mind and immerse ourselves in the spirit or the “nous”, that contemplative part of the soul according to the Philocalia praying. And it will be difficult to calm the mind while we remain slaves of the automatisms that govern our life.

There is a necessary understanding and a necessary attitude that open us to a new behavior. Our behavior is the result of what we carry inside. And what is it that cannot be missing inside us? The desire for God, the longing for Him, the passion to find that which never dies. It does not matter what is done, it does not matter what is to come, merging from this very moment is what counts. Abandon ourselves to what his will brings us at each step and act knowing that it is God himself who speaks to us through what happens.

From elsantonombre.org


The place of rest

Shortly after waking up we can tell if we are centered, off-center or losing our way. Let’s pay attention to the rush there is in our actions. If you do things in haste we already know the extent of our estrangement from the heart. It is a very simple criterion that frees us from error. When we jump from one moment to the next very much in a hurry, or when we are already wishing to finish this and move on to the next thing… We moved towards the periphery of ourselves.

The closer we are to our center, the calmer it is and there lies a balance which is clarity. In the past, very tall towers were built on the top of high mountains, which were sheltered from storms because they were above the clouds. They were impregnable places and, although they were totally exposed, remained sheltered. Being there implied distance and an easy observation of the whole environment.

Living in the inner hermitage, in the spiritual heart, enables us to have the same thing. It is a capacity to realize the different facts that converge in the same event and at the same time, to maintain a certain distance from them. It opens up a space that allows us to breathe in every sense of the word and not be overwhelmed by the reactions that occur in the environment, in our minds and bodies.

Being established there feels fresh and does not imply effort in the sense that we usually use the word. Being there does not make you tired. Accessing that place where we are authentic pervades our days with meaning and makes us feel a sense of familiarity with grace. And it is this same familiarity that calls us back when we are absent due to distractions, habits or sheer inertia.

Very different methods are used to reach that depth of the soul and are suited to different people in each situation or at a particular moment. But to realize that the result of our actions does not depend on us but on the divine providence is very necessary. Without this conviction it becomes difficult to go to the place of true rest. If what is happening depends ultimately on us, we are carrying a very heavy burden on our backs that we cannot bear.

Once I was told: Did you make the sun rise today? Have you decided the direction the clouds will follow? Do you know already how many people will come to the world or will leave it at the end of the day? Well, no. Do you tell the heart when to beat, the diaphragm how to breathe, or the blood where it should circulate? No, you don’t. Go through your life and you will see that the person you are with, the place where you live, that job and those other circumstances have happened beyond your intention. In any case, an interaction that you cannot specify has taken place.

Sticking to our scope of activity, doing the best we can in every moment and situation is our field of action. And that small space of freedom appears when we allow the grace of attention become present in us. This vigilant attention needs relaxation, not contraction. And that relaxation arises when we are aware of our role in the work of creation. If we travel in one of the seats of the bus and behave as if we were the driver, we will feel embittered during our trip. We will complain that our course is not being followed and we will not understand what we are doing wrong.

The practice of Jesus’ prayer, for example, or other forms of prayer and meditation are intended to silence the mind. And this is because the mind is not the proper tool to guide our life. If we put the “crazy lady of the house” in charge we find ourselves with lives full of suffering and inconsistency. Let’s continue to talk about this in the days ahead if you like.