Renew the practices of the Flame of Love in Love
If you’re like me, you may have wondered why we call Lent . . . well . . . Lent! It is more properly called the fast of Lent. Lent is a word from long ago English related to our modern word “length”. It was the season when the days lengthened. Thus, the “fast of Lent” was the fast at the time of the year when the days lengthened – Lent for short.
But, interesting etymology aside, there’s a valuable spiritual analogy here. Sometimes it can feel like the practices of the Flame of Love are a continual Lent. There’s a reason for that. Those practices of setting aside what we want for ourselves for the sake of others – not in spiritual pride, as spiritual gymnastics, or in the desire for a great reward but in love – those practices of setting ourselves aside for others increase the spiritual daylight in our lives and drive out the dark. This is what makes The Flame of Love such a rocket ride to holiness.
In the Flame of Love, Jesus invites us into such close unity with Him that we live His life of selfless loving sacrifice for others continually – not just during Lent. This has an amazing effect on our lives – the effect of grace. I don’t know how many people I talk to who say the same thing about the Flame of Love: they can’t explain it, they don’t know how, but somehow something has changed. There’s a change inside that they and others can sense. That’s the effect of grace – longer daylight in their souls! Let’s explore how this works with the scriptures.
How the days grow longer
Let’s look at Rom 5:2-5: “through whom [Jesus] we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
We see from the last verse that the Holy Spirit enables us to love with the love of God rather than our faulty, unsustainable human love. This comes by grace as we see in the first verse. Because of that, we don’t run from afflictions but boast in them or, as other translations read, exult in them. Why? Because the more opportunities we have to pour out our lives for others in love at the prompting of grace, the more grace has its effect so that we are transformed into the very nature of Jesus and are able to endure, persevere in love in all circumstances.
Saint James says the same thing in the first chapter of his letter: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” That perseverance in loving makes us perfect – conformed to the image of Christ.
So every time we give up our time in love of others for prayer, Mass, and Adoration, we are increasing our daylight. Every time we fast or make our meals tasteless, we are increasing our daylight. Every time we rearrange our schedule to keep vigil, every time we embrace our sufferings for their redemptive value for others, every time we put down our entertainment to give our time entirely to our Lord and Lady for the salvation of souls, we are lengthening our daylight until there is no more darkness. Then we will shine continually – always being Jesus, always blessing others by giving up of ourselves – just like our Father.
Shine as a continuous blessing
Look at this passage in the Diary from February 29, 1964: Jesus: “Your homage pleases Me, My little one, but I will explain the words, ‘True God and true Man.’ If this were not true, how could you come closer to Me? I let Myself be known to you as true God and true Man. Not only you, but all those who eat My Body and drink My Blood. As true God, I penetrate your heart and as true Man, I speak to you because My human Heart beats at the same rhythm as My Divinity. Your heart beats to the same rhythm as My Heart. Do you know what this means? It means that you participate in My Divinity.
All who feel with Me and whose thoughts are My thoughts will receive this participation. Whoever lives this way can only bless. This blessing increases the effect of My work of Redemption. This effect makes you saints.”
So let us renew our commitment to the practices of the Flame of Love to lengthen the daylight in our souls during Lent and every day of the year until the daylight shines continuously, until the effect of grace has made us saints who can only bless. This is our calling. The world needs us to be saints in spite of our weakness. Shine with the light of day.