Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lent “Sacrifices”

Lent is an important time for Christians.  It is the time of year for extended reflection and abstinence.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, where Christians are reminded that they are from dust and dust they shall return- until Easter, when The Lord rises from the grave. Forty-some odd days to really pay attention to God.  It’s a gift.

I’ve always enjoyed the Lenten Season. I like being a participant in something so big, so important. I feel prideful of my Church, the Catholic Church and its practices.

Every year, Christians all over the world abstain from something- a food or an activity-and fast on Fridays. (“Oh, I gave up candy, cookies, cake, beer, gambling, etcetera, for Lent”.--Sometimes we can get martyr-ish in our claims of abstinence, can’t we?)  This year, our priest encouraged us to go a step further. He asked us to DO MORE, rather than less. How?  Well, just as in abstaining, we have the free will to decide what the MORE will be. For years, Tim’s MORE has been to go to Mass on weekdays during Lent, and not just on Sundays.  He enjoys that. I personally have a hard time getting up early enough to enjoy it.

I have decided that my MORE will be more reading. More reflection. More prayer.  I just finished a book called Life’s Greatest Lessons: What I’ve Learned From the Happiest People I Know, By Allen R. Hunt.  The first thing I liked about this book was that the story was told by a grandson and his “happiest people” were his grandparents. On page 47, the author wrote: “She knew exactly what she would do when she got to be a grandmother. She would pay back every bit of love she had gotten from her own Granny by pouring that same love into the lives of her grandchildren.” I have fond, fond memories of my grandparents.  A grandparent’s love is so special. The message in a nut-shell was to Love all people and show it with your actions.  To Earn as much money as you could by being honest and faithful to the gifts (knowledge, skill, etc.) that God has given to you.  To Give as much money to the poor/needy as possible. The family in this story tithed 10% of their income- a hefty commitment! And to Save as much as possible by living simply and not spending all your money on stuff.  L.E.G.S.

I’m reading another book, Rediscover Jesus, by Matthew Kelly, that has 40 short chapters- one for each day of Lent.  In this book, the author talks about how radical Jesus was for his time. I really connected with chapter 18: Jesus on Lifestyle. The chapter starts on page 84 like this: “People were made to be loved, and things were made to be used. But often we get this confused and many of the world’s problems are caused because we LOVE Things and USE People.”

Think about that.

When Tim and I were in our Pre-Cana marriage preparation classes some thirty-four odd years ago, our priest gave us the truest gift.  A gift we never forgot and have always tried to live by.  He said, “Love people not things. Things can’t love you back.”

The next book on my reading list is The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, also by Matthew Kelly. I’d like to challenge myself to see how many books I can read on the subject of being/becoming a more humble follower, but that really is not the point, is it?  It’s not about the quantity of books I read, but rather quality of time I spend in reflection and action. I’ve still got lots of work to do.

Until next time,

Be Good to Yourself.


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