Lent: how can we progress in virtue?

In this brief writing Chiara Lubich reminds us that the best penance is love towards our neighbours. We propose this for the period in which we prepare ourselves for Easter.

«Its purpose is to transform our life into a “Holy Journey”, to produce the result desired in the Imitation of Christ, a book of prayer and meditation so rich in spirituality which many of us are familiar with, which says that we need some attributes that are very compelling: […] an ardent desire to progress in virtue, love for sacrifice, the fervour of penance, self-denial, and knowing how to bear every adver­sity….

They are attributes that are necessary for all of us to possess. However, we must ask ourselves: how can we acquire them in accordance with our own spirituality?

The answer is clear and certain: we have not been called by God to accomplish all this through a monastic style of life separated from the world.

We are called to remain in the midst of the world and to reach God through our neighbour, which means through love for our neighbour and through reci­procal love. It is through committing ourselves to undertake this unique and evangelical path that we will discover, as if by enchant­ment, that we have acquired all these virtues in our soul.[…]

But we can do this if we have love. Isn’t it written: “I will run the way of your commands when you give me a docile heart [a heart full of love]” (Psalm 119:32). If in loving our neighbour we run the path of fulfilling God’s commands, it means that we are making progress.

We need love for sacrifice. To love the others precisely means to sacrifice oneself in order to be dedicated to the service of others. Christian love, even though it is a source of great joy, is synonymous with sacrifice.

We need the fervour of penance. It is through a life of love that we will find the greatest and principal penance to perform.

We need self-denial. Love for our neighbours always implies self-denial.

Finally, we need to know how to bear all adversity. Are not many sufferings in the world caused by living alongside of others? We must know how to bear everyone, and to love them out of love for Jesus Forsaken. By doing this we will overcome many obstacles in life.

Yes, in loving our neighbour we find an excellent possibility to transform our life into a “Holy Journey” […] ».

Chiara Lubich, On the Holy Journey, New City Press, New York 1988, pp. 156-158

(From a telephonic conference call – Rocca di Papa, 27 November 1986)

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