Weekend Reflections for 2/11/16
Lent is here. Some dread it. Others wonder: what's the point of it? A few have been looking forward to it—maybe as a chance to lose a few pounds by fasting.
For Catholics, Lent is not just another spiritual ‘self-help’ program. Every Lenten practice should be focused on one thing: helping me to grow closer to Jesus. My actions should open my heart to a deeper communion with Him. During Lent, the Church offers us 4 traditional practices to help us grow in relationship with Christ.
First: wage war on sin. For many of us, there are two or three main sins that consistently drag us down. These sins get in the way of our relationship with God. They make me self-centered. They distract me from the mission God has given to me. Yes, Christ forgives my sins. And He can help me to pull these sins out by the root. This takes trust, self-awareness, and...
Second: prayer. In the Gospels, Jesus Himself often takes time to be alone with His Father. He goes to the desert or to the mountain. How many times do I say, ‘I wish I prayed more’? We have a wealth of spiritual resources in the Church: Scripture, rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, and more. The most important thing is to mark out time for prayer each day. 15 minutes is a reasonable goal to start with. To quote Duck Dynasty, 'If you're too busy to fish and hunt, then you're too busy.' If you are too busy to pray 15 minutes today, then...
Third: fasting. All are asked to refrain from meat on Fridays. And we are each invited to cut other clutter from our lives. How much time do I spend aimlessly surfing the Internet, or clicking through channels? How about needlessly worrying? These things are spiritual junk food. Cutting back on these will free me to love Christ and to receive His love.
Finally, alms. This means sharing my gifts with those in need, especially the poor. Pope Francis has especially highlighted this practice in this Year of Mercy. Jesus Himself did this. He promises that I will meet Him when I serve the poor, the elderly, the weak and wounded.
War on sin, prayer, fasting and alms. Through the practices, Christ brings peace and clarity to my life and draws me closer to Himself.
-Fr Joe Laramie, SJ