Luke 9: 22-25
Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self,
take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.
Let all things be stepping-stones to heaven. Deny your own will and accept the bitter things for sweet and the sweet for bitter, and you will be saints. Whoever sows the field, sows with fatigue and labor. In the field of the Gospel, we sow with patience and suffering.
Did you think perhaps, that Community life would be free from crosses? You deceive yourselves. Did you perhaps enter the Society from human motives and not divine --- to escape reproaches at home, to rid yourselves of the yoke of paternal authority, to evade labor in the fields, to suffer no deprivation in your life, and the like? If you love the Society, my dear Brothers, change your minds. Look into yourselves and if you admire virtue, as it exists in others, then you too should practice it incessantly. Let the Society and every one of its members be dear to you. Put aside all hatred, aversion, prejudice and pride. In their place put charity, docility, humility, prudence and a sincere desire for the success of the Community where you are in service. In short, let the Society be your way to heaven, Amen.
The disciples of Jesus were focused on power. They lived in hope of a powerful messiah that would free them from the oppression of life. Jesus was to become victorious, not through power but through suffering. Jesus urged them to change their minds. Some of St. Gaspar's brothers were looking for a superficial freedom in religious life. They wanted the religious community to make them holy, or happy or successful. Gaspar told them clearly, "change your minds."
Our world is focused on power, or wealth or good looks. We depend on many of these things to make us happy or successful. It can sound inhuman to deny our own will. It can seem unhealthy to suffer willingly. Yet relationships do not happen if I insist on remaining more powerful than the other. Intimacy cannot happen if I insist on my own way. Communion can happen if I am honest about my own weakness and strength and give of myself completely in love, rather than holding a position of strength.
The Lenten reform begun yesterday is about changing hearts, minds, and ways of life. We took up our cross of ashes and stepped forward to choose a life that lives beyond ashes and death. This was a choice for life, not the superficial things that make life easy. This was a choice that conforms our will to God's will, even if that means struggle or suffering.
Today is a new day with a new choosing. A Lent well begun has to be confirmed daily. That daily cross is not simply enduring whatever comes, but actively taking up the cross in actions of charity and patience. St. Gaspar teaches that the person next to us is our way to heaven. This is where we change our hearts and minds from judgment to acceptance. This is where we choose life in actions of patience, humility and charity.
- About what or whom is the Lord asking me to "change my mind?"
- Do I expect my spouse, family, religious community, parish, or church to fulfill all my hopes and dreams?
- In what small way today can I take up actions for life, for justice, for charity?
 The First Circular Letter, 1826