Lenten Reflection – Fr. Liam McClarey sac

And I shall put my spirit in you – Ezekiel 37:14

Your interests ,…,(are) in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you – Romans 8:8

“Lazarus, here! Come out”…. “Unbind him, let him go free”.

                These three sentences are selected from a reading for the 5th Sunday of Lent in Cycle A.  There is a repetition of spirit/Spirit  in all three. It is that that we shall spend some time on to-day. Clearly we are interested in spiritual things or at least prepared to consider them by our very presence here to-day.

                Let us begin with a definition of Spirituality (= spiritual things- I hope).  Many cite a variety of authors but  I  select the Jesuit Charles Andre Bernard. Spiritual theology is a theological discipline which is founded on the principals of revelation, study of the experience of Christian spirituality, that describes the progressive development to know the structures and the laws. (P.73) Spirituality is therefore based on the Word of God/Bible, can be examined and hopefully one progresses in it. It is important to remember that Pallotti would have been aware of circular progression or deepening rather than linear progression.

                Pallotti writes very little about the Holy Spirit- surprising in a way, given our emphasis on the Cenacle and Pentecost,  yet there is no official Church documentation on the Spirit until 1897 with the publishing of Divinum Illud Munus, (Pope Leo XIII) all seven or eight A4 pages! Yet it is the spirit that led Jesus into the desert to be tempted in the First Sunday of Lent readings. ‘Full of the spirit’ is when Jesus was tempted- yet do we tend to think that filled with the Holy Spirit we will be firm/steadfast/ safe? Yet it is the same Spirit that will raise/ has raised Jesus from the dead! The centre of the spiritual life is the fact that the Spirit is dwelling within us- we are temples of the Spirit! How do we reconcile all these ideas? How do we reconcile the opposites where and whenever they occur- in ourselves, in others, in the Church?

                Therefore we are encouraged to be interested in spiritual things. Some now ‘take on’ something for Lent and often this may be ‘going to’ Mass, spiritual reading, Stations of the Cross, or some other prayer during the season. But surely this six week period of practice at a deeper level should/could/might lead to such levels throughout the other 46 weeks of the year?  Does Lent make a radical change or only a temporary one?

                An article in October 2013’s  Furrow, ‘The Ministry of the Unbound’ (pp 546-549)cites five keys.  I refer to this directly in relation to Lazarus but also because Veritas are promoting a prayer leaflet in relation to this topic, directly referring to Pope Francis I.

                Picture a locked door. Opening that door represents liberation from spiritual bondage. This door has five locks, each requiring a key. As a believer in Christ you have all the keys you need to be free…… Unbound, P.53

These five keys are: Repentance and Faith; Forgiveness; Renunciation; Authority and the Father’s Blessing. There are interesting parallels here to the recent Roman and Dublin initiatives in relation to the Sacrament of Confession. This in itself is a Lenten consideration or is it a Lenten habit?

                 According to St Vincent Pallotti we should say each day of Lent , ‘Come let us adore the crucified King.’ (OOCC III, 447). in his letters he begins some with the greeting, ‘Dearest in Our Lord Jesus Christ, Crucified’.[1] The crucified is a title referred to by Pallotti throughout his writings but especially in Volume XIII of his Complete Works. I read recently [2] that some are aware of the danger that Stations of the Cross are admired more as artwork rather than as a means/ aid to prayer. Pallotti, according to Bonifazi, set aside every Tuesday & Thursday for the Stations of the Cross.[3] I am reminded of a De La Salle Brother who prayed the Stations every day of the year- except Easter Sunday!

                God of Infinite Love is addressed to ‘all the faithful in Our Lord Jesus Christ, Crucified.‘ On days 24-31 (excepting 25) the title refers explicitly to Our Lord Jesus Christ- without referral to the crucifixion. 

Cardinal Pierre De Berulle (1575-1629) is viewed as the Founder of the French school of spirituality. He acknowledges the current reality of the importance of the Incarnation (Birth of Christ) because it is permanent. Jesus IS human! (And Divine!)

He suggests three lines interesting to consider at the end of Lent:

Separated Love- that lives the mystery of Christ absent:- Mary Magdalene

Crucified Love- that lives the mystery of dereliction (the anguish on the Cross)

Revived Love- that lives with Jesus glorified- in front of the Glorified Jesus.

                There is a possibility to ‘rush’ to the third line- it can be more comfortable. Crucified love is more familiar than separated love within the Church setting. Yet there is something worthwhile in the silence/stillness of Holy Saturday to consider- the world WITHOUT Christ. He was gone! What prompted Mary Magdala to go to the tomb? Duty- to anoint the body- possibly? But would anyone argue that she expected to meet Jesus- ALIVE?

So do I attend the Holy Week ceremonies out of duty OR do I expect/ BELIEVE to meet Jesus ALIVE?

Fr. Liam McClarey sac

PP Corduff


In his farewell discourse, Jesus prepares his disciples for what is coming next. In this triptych by artist Linda McCray, three central events are depicted from left to right: Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus’ glorification, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Passion to Pentecost by Linda McCray, MFA. Ms McCray welcomes comments at LindaMcCrayArt@gmail.com. – See more at: http://blog.spu.edu/lectio/dirty-feet-and-discipleship-the-depth-of-love/#sthash.GT5bFRx1.dpuf


[1] We find an illustration of this in his letter of 18th May 1846 to Giuseppe Valle at Sassari, in Volume V of the Letters P.240, and of November 11th 1846 to Raphael Melia in London. This is found in Le Lettere V, Anni 1845-46, Roma 2004, P.304.

[2] The Irish Catholic, Comment p.32, April 3rd 2014.

[3] BONIFAZI FLAVIAN, Soul Of A Saint, Pallottine Fathers, Baltimore, 1962, P.90. The lacuna in most of this author’s writings are his lack of general reference to the Opere Complete.