Today as you know is the beginning of Lent for this year. We know what Lent is, it is like the Church’s retreat. It is a time to engage in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Ok, but now is a good time to ask: “what is your goal for Lent?” A good one is to come closer to Christ. However, I would say that this year it is different than maybe it was when we first learned about Lent maybe twenty to forty years ago.
Let me give you an example: I read an article about a new program coming on A&E entitled Undercover High School where recent graduates of High School go back to show what it is like today. They reported in the five years since at least one of them graduated the whole environment changed radically in ways they did not expect, most of which due to social media and a change of morality. So you can imagine if high school changed in five years our society is radically different than it was in the 1970’s So this means our approach to Lent needs to change as well.
Many people look as Lent as that time to give up candy as a sacrifice, although that is not a bad thing to do, I would recommend that you do not. Do something that is more than give up candy, do something that will lead you to Christ by opening your mind more to him. For example, give up something that is taking up a lot of your time and find something else to do with that time. Do not give up watching TV but give up watching one or two programs and find something like spiritual reading and prayer, something that will lead you to deepen your understanding of divine wisdom, lead you closer to Christ.
Expand your understanding of why Catholicism is important.
Do some great spiritual reading from the saints for example and let that reading affect the way you pray and live. Maybe read Way of Perfection from St Teresa of Avila.
St. Paul in the twelfth chapter of Romans calls us to have a renewal of our minds. This is the time to pray for that and seek that. One great way is to read a chapter a day of the letters in the New Testament. I have a series on how to read the Bible and would happy to lead you to it for free. It does not cost anything.
Challenge yourself to better appreciate Christ’s presence in your life and live it.
I will speak more this weekend on how our faith life is about deepening our understanding of divine wisdom which puts us at odds with human wisdom.
So ask the Lord to deepen your understand of what we understand as Catholics so that you may be able to live it in a deeper way. Deepen your faith so that you know why we believe what we do and why we cannot change our teachings the way the world wants us to change.
If there is a Catholic teaching that you cannot agree with, do not simply just decide to not observe it and at the same time do not seek to observe it just because you are supposed to, but observe it and seek the wisdom behind it. Why does the Church reject gay marriage? Sex outside of marriage? Artificial contraception and more. If you disagree with those positions and seek to know why you are at odds with the Church the fruit of that activity will not turn you into little automatons that do nothing more than blindly obey, you will instead come to understand a deep profound wisdom that leads you right to union with the Father in the most profound way. This is why the Church teaching is there.
Let me give you an example: The media will tell you that women cannot be ordained because they are inferior in the eyes of the Church, Au Contraire Mon Ami, nothing could be further from the truth. Women have such a powerful role in the Church that ordination would lessen and weaken that role not increase it. I learned that from the women in the Latino community. But if you do not understand the role of women in the Church then you will not understand how powerful a role it is.
Others will tell you that real men do not go to Church. That is too bad because more powerful are real men when they do go to Church. If you have men in your family who feel that they are too macho to go to mass, tell them to consider going to mass for Lent. Let them see how macho they are at Easter.
One of the greatest struggles we have in our Church is that Catholics are not living the role to which we are called. It is essential that we understand our roles and live them for the sake of the community.
Pope Pius X in his letter on the Beatification of St. Joan of Arc and others warned that all the strength of the Kingdom of Satan lies in the weakness of Christians. So this is a time for us to seek to be stronger, to be able to act as true witnesses to Christ, for when we do that we make Satan cower. The Pope warned against being frightened by the mocking and the derision of the world, but if we want to truly be a powerful source of strength for our brothers and sisters, we must be strong Catholics and this is the time to grow in virtue and strength in the faith
So this is not a time to give up candy as much as a time to pray for and seek to be led closer to Christ.