Chaplain's Comments

Have you discovered new ways of doing Lent? Here are some Lenten treasures to make this journey richer and deeper. A bowl of sand reminds us that we are in the desert with the Lord in all the temptations of modern life. Placing a candle on the dinner table can be a great sign that we share in the light of Christ. The greatest symbol must be the Bible, open and on display, for all to see that we are guided by the Word. If you seek a new motivation to do the Stations of the Cross, you could do no better than pray the Stations with these words of Pope Benedict XVI: "the Way of the Cross is a school of inner depth and maturity, a school for interiority and consolation, an examination of conscience, for conversion, a disturbing experience that knocks on the door of my heart, that obliges me to know myself better and become a better person".

On that note of inner change, here in an article entitled 'Preaching to the Modern Pagans' journalist Bryan Appleyard tells how he interviewed a person who kept quoting them at length. Later he decided to read them for the first time since childhood and he was struck by their insightfulness into the human character. Appleyard thought all the Ten Commandments needed was a makeover so that we can reclaim the power of them.

'You shall have no other gods beside me.' Be serious!

'You shall not carve idols for yourselves … nor bow down before them.' Get real!

'You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.' Be humble!

'Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day ...' Be quiet!

'Honour your father and your mother ...' Respect age!

'You shall not kill.' Do not kill, for all murder is suicide!

'You shall not commit adultery.' Mean what you say!

'You shall not steal.' Do not steal, or all the world will die!

'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.' Honour others, their frailties are usually your own!

'You shall not covet your neighbour's house or wife …' Be kind, be generous and don't play around!

So by putting some ancient words into the modern vernacular we are exhorted this Sunday to seriousness, facing reality, humility, creating space, respecting age, honesty, and fidelity, and we are bluntly told to stop killing and stealing. There is nothing old fashioned about these challenges. As in other instances, we can see that it's not what our tradition has to say but the way we say it that can be the problem.

And today's Gospel tells us of the consequences of moving away from these guiding principles. I think we need to take Jesus' anger very seriously. Rightly we have emphasised the love and compassion of Jesus over recent decades because for far too long the steadfast love of Christ was under-emphasised. We should never think, however, that it cancels out the anger God feels when he sees an unjust world filled with people who know better and do nothing.

God has given us the Ten Commandments, the Law, the Prophets and Jesus his Son, so that we might know the Way, the Truth and the Life. When we are called to account for how we spent our lives, whom we loved and how we made the world a better place for all, most of us will not be able to plead ignorance. May our family prayer this weekend enable us to be mindful of what the Ten Commandments say, but even more may it give us the courage and strength to live them out in a world that needs witnesses to them more than ever.

A young man asked a Native American Elder about his life. "Inside of me," the Elder said, "there are two dogs. One is assertive, busy, sometimes aggressive, pushy, and even mean, and at times, fuelled by fear. The other dog is quiet. He is more serene, reflective, and prayerful. He is a dog of peace. But the dogs are always fighting. Well, actually, that's not quite true. The first dog is always trying to kill the second dog. "If the two dogs are always fighting," the young man wondered, "Which dog wins?" "The one that I feed the most." We live in a world that feeds the first dog.

"Leadership is not control. It is, first and foremost, a model of self-responsibility. A leader's power would come from their honesty and from their willingness to live their own process and respect the process of other persons."-Anne Wilson Schaef

• An organization cannot be what its leaders are not. A person cannot give what she doesn't have.

• Know what feeds and fuels you; know what keeps you sane.

• Know that you cannot be all things to all people.

• Say "NO." If you don't, it will be said for you, and to the people you love the most.

• Create a sanctuary, a place in your house, garden, a local park, or even your car, where you can stop awhile and ask these powerful questions on the power of pause in our lives.

What if life isn't about finishing on top, but known when to stop?

What if life isn't about learning to live with stress, but learning to live with less?

What if life isn't about what you chase, but resting in God's grace?

Gaetan Pereira
College Chaplain