Friday, March 21, 2014

Lenten Check Up

How is your Lent going? Fridays of Lent for us who are Catholic are meant to have a keener focus on Christ. These Fridays are an invitation to check on what we proposed to do, or to avoid as our Lenten practice. Or, our Lenten penance. The purple vestments and altar covers in our churches stand for penance. In the book of Jonah, God spared the people of Nineveh
because they "believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth....When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out."
Sackcloth was scratchy and uncomfortable. It was a penance, a discipline to wear that instead of smoother, lighter clothing. When Jesus spoke about fasting and doing penance, he cautioned people to make it "low key" that is not to show off. God is the one we are doing this work for. "Do not look gloomy like the hypocrites." Wash your faces, be well groomed so you don't look like you are starving! We might put on a modern twist to this advice. Fast, yes. Fast from a critical attitude; fast from too many words; fast from wasting time in scrolling through websites just out of curiosity. If you prefer to go on-line check out one of the religious sites. Our Sisters at offer reflections, newsletters and prayers to give you a spiritual uplift. Father Robert Barron has a free spiritual guide for every day in Lent. One site that I use everyday is by the Irish Jesuits: Creighton University offers free daily reflections, and even an on-line retreat. The Internet has many free spiritual resources to help us remember God in our daily lives.
These reflections remind us that sin tends to erase our sensitivity to sin. When we gaze at the crucified Christ, we see the price Jesus paid to wash away our sin. Fridays are always a day to recall that the Sacred Heart of Jesus asked for reparation: acts of love to repair or make up for offenses to God. Just as we want to "make up for" having forgotten someone's birthday or anniversary; or we want to apologize and make up for an unwitting verbal barb we may have spoken--so we want to "make up to" or atone for our sins with some form of penance. What ever you chose, may it be done for love of God and with a peace-filled heart. And may he grant you the grace to persevere through the end of Lent. Then when Easter comes we will be more free to accept the Risen Christ into our hearts.

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