Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lenten Reflection 1: Time to pick IT up!

It has been several months since I have posted anything here. An awful lot has happened. One,  I got engaged and now am only 110 days from being married!!  Two, I had the honor and privilege of going on a pilgrimage to Rome with 100 friends and co-workers – I still sit back and think about what incredible places we visited and people we had the privilege of listening to. Three, there is the never ending, always exciting, constantly learning happening in my role as FOCUS Team Director at Seton Hall. This position has allowed me to learn so much about myself and how to serve others well. Four, about a million more things in between!! During this Lenten season, among a few other things I am committing to do (or not do) I will be posting at least weekly during this Lenten season about my journey through Lent as a missionary, fianc√© and disciple and lover of Jesus Christ.

Our Church is beautiful, I am constantly reminded about the goodness of God through one of the greatest things he’s given us; the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. Those words alone: “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic” should amaze us and always leave us stunned at the incredible gift we have been given. There is no better time to remind ourselves of this gift than during a few very important periods in the Liturgical year, the season of Advent, the Christmas season, the season of Lent, and the Easter season.  Each season stands out to us in different ways; not only by which color the church may be decorated in or which color our priests wear, but during each of these seasons we are asked to change our attitude – to prepare ourselves with expectant anticipation or penance to call something to mind that we normally may not. We are invited to in a greater way consider the acts of Christ Jesus.

Which act of Christ is more important? His birth? Or his death and resurrection? I was asked this about a year ago; I was caught off guard by the question and was unsure how to respond to be honest. Since I’ve been asked I have considered this several times throughout the year. One reason I think the answer is simple because you can simply look at the lengths of time of the Liturgical seasons. Advent is only 4 weeks, Christmas a little over a week, Lent is well over 40 days and the Easter season can be as many as 50 days! Based on that alone isn’t it clear which act might be seen as more important? Anyways, yes, Jesus Christ was born not just to live and perform miracles but to die…to die for us. Jesus Christ was born to die on the Cross to save us from our sin…so that everyone in the world might have a chance at salvation. And of course He died so that He could rise. What a reason to celebrate!!

This year, like always, Lent began on Ash Wednesday and the Gospel reading from that day has been stuck in my mind all week long. Part of the Gospel reading on Wednesday was from Matthew chapter 6 and addresses fasting. Here is Matthew 6:16-18:

“And when you fast, do not look dismal like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Each Lent I have to remind myself often why I have chosen to fast from something or to do some additional act of prayer or service… it is not and cannot be to draw attention to myself or to somehow benefit my own physical good – no, but rather it is to more completely align my will with the will of God the Father’s and to unite what little suffering I endure to the suffering of Jesus Christ on the Cross. I need to remind myself that every small act of self-denial should only be directing my thoughts, energy, and actions to the Cross and the Man on it. So this Lenten season there are a few things I want to do, but one of the things I want to do especially well is summed up in Mark 8:34-36.

“And He called to Him the multitude with His disciples, and said to them ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?’”

Let’s follow Him well during this season of Lent. God bless you.