Carmelite Retreat Online - Lent 2018
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Lent 2018 - Online retreat with
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

Holy week: Letting Him act

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1. A week begins...

Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 12:12-16

The next day, a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written,

“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on an ass’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him.


A week begins... It is not like the others. God - in his Son Jesus - will put on the garments of the Servant, the humiliated Servant, the Servant who is put to death. But first of all, Jesus chose to celebrate the Passover with his disciples.

He will entrust them with this mission to “do this in memory of him”.  Leaving the table, Jesus takes the servant's apron and comes to wash the feet of those who will be responsible for announcing the Good News of the Resurrection. Jesus kneels in front of each one of those whom he has called and who followed him, without always understanding him. He, Jesus, seemed so different from what they had been taught about God... So their dismay at certain moments can be understood!

    Jesus kneels before each one of them, despite a certain resistance from Peter.

    This Thursday, he will kneel in front of each one of us. He will propose to wash our feet, these feet wounded by wandering along so many aimless paths, so many steps that lead us nowhere, we who refuse the path traced by the Gospel. These wounded and tired feet that have followed so many idols offering a happiness that is momentary and fleeting... Before each of us, Jesus will ask the same question: “Will you let me...?” This is the very last  request before his arrest. This is the ultimate question that plunges us into the heart of God in his Son Jesus: “When will you finally accept the call to live in my life?”

    A week begins... the week of the Son of God’s trial. He is accused of presenting himself as the beloved Son of the eternal Father. He is condemned because he has declared himself to be the Son of God. But what else can he say before the judges who are ready to condemn him? He is the Icon of the Father. On the day of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist at the Jordan and again on Mount Tabor during the Transfiguration, God his Father prompts us to listen to him. In him, the Father has placed all his love. What have we done with this commandment? How are his Words inscribed on our hearts? How did his Word escape from our Bibles to dwell in our lives, to fuel our actions, to renew our witness?

    This body that Mary took care to clothe is going to be tortured. His tormentors want to silence the Word and the only possible way is to attach it to this wood, to this cross. Why is it necessary to nail his hands which have had no other functions than to bless, to welcome, to forgive, and to share? Why attach the feet of the One who has always walked to meet the wounded of life, the "hopeless", the victims of all sorts of evil...? This week is the time when we will remember that now all suffering is accompanied, visited by Him. God fills our human crosses with his presence.

    The Son cries out in his suffering and joins the tears of those who do not understand, who no longer know how to hope.

    This week, God has an appointment at Golgotha with every man, woman, youth, and child. But before he died, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, will bequeath to us his Mother, the Virgin Mary: “Behold your mother.” We will be entrusted to his Mother. She is the disciple who will lead us every hour to her Son.

    This week, God kneels before each one of us.    

This week, God is stripped of his garments and the whip will wound and tear his flesh before the nails fasten him to the wood of the cross.

    This week, Jesus will be laid in the tomb in haste. To begin the Sabbath, this time set aside for God, they won’t have time to care for his Son’s corpse.

    This is the week of meeting with derision and violence, with misunderstanding, contempt,  and rejection. 

    This week, this is the moment chosen by God to show just how far his love will go. It has no limit. What’s more, it is eternal, stronger than death, than all death.

    So this week, we really need to call it Holy Week: it opens for us a path to new life… already the first glimpses of the light of the Resurrection can be seen. 

    Let’s make this week a holy week. It tells us everything about God and his Son. The Spirit will guide us to the heart of the Love of the Trinity.

2. “Happy are they who suffer with him”

    As he sensed his own death approaching, Brother Lawrence wrote a letter to a suffering nun on 17 November 1690:


I will not ask God to deliver you from your trials, but I will ask him earnestly to give you the patience and strength needed to suffer as long as he desires. Find consolation in him who keeps you fixed to the cross; he will release you when he judges it appropriate. Happy are they who suffer with him. Get used to suffering, and ask him for the strength to suffer as he wants, and for as long as he judges necessary. The worldly do not understand these truths, and I am not surprised; the reason is that they suffer as citizens of this world and not as Christians. (...)


    I wish you were convinced that God is often closer to us in times of sickness and suffering than when we enjoy perfect health. Seek no other doctor but him. I think he wants to cure you by himself. Place all your trust in him, and you will soon experience the benefits we resist when we trust more in [medical] remedies than in God.

    Whatever remedies you may use, they will only work to the extent that he will permit. When suffering comes from God, he alone can cure it, and he often leaves us with physical illness in order to cure our spiritual illness. Find consolation in the sovereign doctor of body and soul.  (…)


    Be content with the state in which God has placed you; no matter how happy you may think I am, I envy you. Such pains and sufferings would be paradise for me if I could suffer with God, and the greatest pleasures would be hell, were I to enjoy them without him. All my consolation would be to suffer something for him.

    I am close to the point of going to see God; I mean to go render him an account. For if I could see God for even one moment, the torments of purgatory would be sweet for me were they to last until the end of the world. What consoles me in this life is that I see God by faith. And I see him in such a way that I can sometimes say, ‘I no longer believe, I see, for I experience what faith teaches.’ With this assurance, and by this practice of faith, I will live and die with him.

    Always hold fast to God who is the only comfort in your sufferings. I will pray to him to keep you company. 

(Letter 11)


fr. Didier-Joseph  Caullery, ocd (Convent of Avon, France)

3. Pray each day of the week with Brother Lawrence

Holy Monday, March 26

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. (John 12:3)

“In the ways of God, thoughts amount to little whereas love counts for everything.” (Ways 10)

Mary cared for the body of Christ. Today, his body is the Eucharist, the Church, the life of my neighbor, and my own life. In what ways will I take care of the body of Christ?

Holy Tuesday, March 27

I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! (Isaiah 49:5)

“We must give ourselves to God entirely and in complete abandonment in the temporal and spiritual realms, finding joy in carrying out his will whether he leads us by the way of suffering or consolation, for it is all the same to one who is completely abandoned.” (Conversations 5)

In saying, ‘amen’, we express at one and the same time our faith and our trust in God. I try to be attentive to the ‘amen’ that I will say at Mass and in my prayer.

Holy Wednesday, March 28

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matthew 26:31-32)

“In the spiritual life, not to advance is to go backwards.” (Letter 1)

Is Jesus a stumbling block for me? Today I will be attentive to his pleadings and to my own responses. Lord, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Thursday, March 29

“(...) The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

“The presence of God is then the soul’s life and nourishment, which can be acquired by the Lord’s grace.” (Spiritual Maxims 26)

Our souls need nourishment. I prepare a balanced menu for the health of my soul: sacraments, reading, prayer, service to the Church or my neighbor...

Good Friday, March 30

“In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me never be put to shame. (...) Into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Psalm 30)

“My tranquility is so great that I fear nothing. What could I fear when I am with him? I cling to him with all my strength. May he be blessed by all. Amen.” (Letter 5)

I take the time to remain near the Cross of Jesus. I gather with care one of the last words or one of the last deeds of the one who loved us to the end...

Holy Saturday, March 31

“I am indeed content with the trust you have in God; I hope he will increase it more and more. We cannot have too much trust in so good and faithful a friend, who will never fail us in this world or the next.” (Letter 10)

Holy Saturday: Silence. God is silent, he has no more to say. So, I can recall the well-known poem about the footprints in the sand… If at times I experience a great sense of solitude in seeing only one set of footprints on the ground, it isn’t that God would have abandoned me, but rather that he carries me in his arms. I tell him once more that I trust him completely.

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