Regnum Christi NY Tri-State

Extreme Grace: Lessons for Lent

Almost one hundred women came together on Saturday, March 4, for a Lenten Retreat led by Father Jorge Obregon, LC. at St. Paul Church, Greenwich, Connecticut. Using examples of extreme forgiveness, compassion, and grace, Father helped the women come to understand that the closer we draw to God, the more love we will have to give to others.

Father drew in the crowd by sharing real-life stories of grace. He spoke about a woman whose husband was unfaithful and how she was able to forgive him only after spending significant time with Jesus in Adoration. Another story was about a man with severe anger issues, which he took out on his family. The root of his problem stemmed from growing up under a demanding and perfectionistic father who was never satisfied with him. Only when the man learned that his father received identical treatment from his father were the seeds of forgiveness planted in his soul. Finally, a similar story of an abusive childhood led one woman to rejoice when she heard about her parents’ ill health. However, once the woman’s mother died of cancer, she had a slight softening in her heart, so she decided to spend an hour a day with her bedridden father, despite how painful that experience would be for her. Over time, her heart fully opened, and she was able to forgive her father for his transgressions toward her.

Such transformations are only possible with experiences of God’s grace. By trying to see others as God sees them, we may begin to cultivate a desire for compassion and not for retribution. Sometimes when we experience suffering, we ask God to remove it immediately. But if we persevere through the fire of suffering, through deep sorrow, through wanting and watching and waiting, we can trust that God is changing us. Father notes that the closer we draw to God, the more love we will be able to give.

Father Jorge reminds us that regardless of our circumstances, we are “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This commandment establishes the proper order for our priorities. Is there something that we put ahead of God in our lives? What gets in the way of loving God with all our strength? Father offers the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity and the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance as one means to help us strive to love God completely. He also reminds us that we are called to love our neighbors but not more than we love ourselves. Using the imagery of a reservoir, he notes that spending time with God in prayer will help fill our “spiritual well” so that it will naturally overflow to our neighbor. Father closed with a quotation from St. Alphonsus Ligouri, “I Love Jesus Christ, and that is why I am on fire with the desire to give Him souls, first of all, my own, and then an incalculable number of others.”

Dear Lord, help us to persevere in our Lenten practices so that we may follow the example of St. Alphonsus Ligouri. Amen.

Hope Hirshorn is the RC Director for the NY Tri-State.  Hope has a M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Fordham, a M.P.A. and A.P.C in finance from NYU, and a certificate in Marian studies from her time in London.  She and her husband reside in West Harrison, NY, and are the proud parents of six children.

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