Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday 2014

It's Ash Wednesday. Straight from our readings today we are reminded that

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment. -- Joel 2:12

Way back in my early teens I used to get together with my best friend and do the whole "giving up something for Lent". Neither one of us was Catholic (Baptist and Methodist) but it seemed to be a neat dare or bet even. I don't remember them all, the worst one I remember is giving up carbonated drinks for Lent. Let me tell you, there is a limit to the amount of Orange Drink from McDonald's one can consume. And while I yet again see the Lord trying to get my attention in my youth, I can see that I didn't quite have it right.

In this Lenten season we are called to a greater reason. It's a time of reflection and getting right with God. We are called upon to take this season and use it as a springboard to get closer (or back) to God. In the Gospel reading from today Mathew speaks to three things to do as well as how NOT to do them. Alms giving (giving to the poor), prayer, and fasting. Speaking on a personal note, I have NO problem at all with the first two. On the contrary, my prayer life is much stronger than it ever has been. Giving, well it's suffered but I'm making headway -- everyone is hurting these days it seems. What I'm having a problem with is the fasting.

Fasting is alien, you may recall that I was going to jump on the E5 bandwagon. Well I fell off and ran away. Fasting is NOT something I enjoy and it has to be the most difficult thing that I've even attempted to give to our Lord. It's funny, I can go without a meal without even thinking about it. However, if I try to fast just two simple meals I act like it's a last meal. It's a battle but I'm working on it. If I can offer my minute suffering for his glory or for someone else who needs a bit off grace. Well, I'll do it.

The Lenten season is not only a start for us to restart but also a time for RCIA participants to become baptized. Say a special prayer for them this season. As someone who is STILL waiting for the door to open to the Church (READ: Annulment), all the RCIA participants can use that prayer to continue journeying to the truth. It probably wouldn't hurt to pray for those wondering about participating in RCIA and coming out of the darkness and into the light.

Step out of that comfort-zone. Activity participate and become a better Christian, a better Catholic and a better human.

Here's some additional information on Lent from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.