Lenten retreat @st. JPII Parish. Pawtucket, RI. March 14, 2022 

My friends, 

Do you remember how you used to look to the future with fire in your belly, feeling that anything was possible? 

Do you remember how you used to think anything was possible with the help of God?  

Do you remember the time when you used to always see the glass half full, hopeful, full of life?  

Do you remember the times when someone asked you–“what do you want to be when you grow up? your eyes would light up; you’d enumerate so many dreams and hopes you had?  

Yes, I’m talking about that time in your teenage years when life was green, life was pink, life was delicious… 

Yes, I’m talking about that time after college when you were smart and you knew it; you had vision, you felt unconquered and unconquerable… 

Yes, I am taking about that time when you used to take your faith seriously; prayer was fruitful; going to church was delightful; God was palpable….  

Now, you don’t dare anything; you don’t long for much. You act defeated and you think defeated. 

You act trapped. You act as if youre caged in. 

Here’s my question to you— 

What has happened to that dreamy you, that hopeful you, that fearless you, that strong you, that decisive you—? When did you stop believing that everything was possible? 

In spiritual direction, I often ask someone—what are your plans, dreams, what do you want to accomplish, what do you live for? What would you die for? Deep down, I know what I am up against when the answer is ‘huh, nothing really’. In some way, they are lost; and they have no map; they have no memory, no vision, no desire beyond the ordinary. They are retired before retiring! Does any of this speak to your reality?  

What happened to you?  

Did the divorce smash your hope in humanity, and even in yourself?  

Did that one failure redefine your entire life?  

Is it due to that person who has hurt you so deeply that you feel like you can never recover?  

Is that sin still holding you back? 

Is it due to that guilt that keeps weighing you down even if it’s been 5, 10, 20, 30 years?  

What happened to you? When did life stop being excited? When did you stop dreaming, hoping, …? 

Is it due to that sickness that holds you back preventing you from any longtime commitment?  

Is it those voices, those people that keep telling you over and over again– ‘you can’t; you’re not worthy; you’re not smart enough? You’re not strong enough…’? what is it? 

What happened to you? If you cant answer that qyestion, youre halfway healed, free? 

Today, I’m here to tell you this—listen up–  no matter what had happened in your past they don’t define you; they don’t tell your entire story—God is the one that tells your story.  

I mean your failure, that letdown, that abandonment, that mistake, that struggle—that’s just a line, a paragraph, a page, a chapter in the masterful story that God is writing about you.  

That situation you face –it’s only a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year in the beautiful tapestry of the story that God is writing about you. Stop acting as if they are the author of your life’s story; they are not; God is. And he is not done writing your story. God is not done with me—repeat with me. Say it as if you believe it. You’re still the pen in his hand and he’s still writing.  

So, only what God wrote about you matters.  

So, the question becomes then– What does he write about you? Because its important to know this—what I say about you doesn’t matter in the end. What your friends say about doesn’t matter at all. What the world says about has no bearing on you. Even what you say about you doesn’t matter—you don’t know you fully, really. They definitely don’t know you. Only what God says matters. Who knows a piece of art better than the artist who made it? God created, planned, handpicked you, knows you thru and thru. Only what he says about you matters, really. 

What does he say about you? 

You are chosen, destined, consecrated, made holy before the beginning of the world to the hymn/ symphony/ song/ for his glory. That’s your story. The Holy Spirit lives inside of you. You have access to God’s wisdom. You are reconciled to God. You are not condemned by God. You have been completely forgiven. You are tenderly loved. You are a sweet fragrance of Christ to God. That’s your identity; this is who you are.  

You are a branch attached to the fruitful, juicy, delicious vine that he is. You are the temple in which God dwells. You are light and salt of the earth. You are a joint heir with Christ. you share in the inheritance of Christ. you are united to the Lord and form one spirit with him. You are a member of the body of Christ. you are a living stone in Christ being built up on the foundation. You are a chosen race. You form a royal priesthood. You are a holy nation/ family. You are a people/ family chosen by the Lord. This is your complete story. most of the chapters of your life speak about that reality.   

There’s more! You have the mind of Christ. you can approach Christ in the boldness, freedom and confidence of a child. I have been rescued from Satan’s domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ. you have been made complete in Christ.  you have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, of love and of a sound mind. You are royalty in God’s kingdom. You are free from any condemning power spoken against me. I am confident that the good work started in me will be brought to completion. That, my brothers and sisters, is the victorious story that God has spoken over you. That’s what defines you. 

Yes, I am taking about that time after your marriage—you used to cook, dance, sing, laugh, go for a walk together, enjoy everything together… life was wild. 

Let me conclude with the words of St. Paul– 

Ephesians 1:18-23– “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, [that power which is] far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. by that power, God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. 

Here’s what I’d like you to reflect on in the next 15 minutes in silence—what would you do today if you know no matter what you do, you cannot fail?