Monday of the First Week of Lent(Click here for readings)Jesus said to his disciples: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me foo…
First Sunday of Lent(Click here for readings)At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached Jesus and said to hi…
Saturday after Ash Wednesday(Click here for readings)Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banq…
Friday after Ash Wednesday
(Click here for readings)
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
As I mentioned yesterday, whatever we do during Lent, it is absolutely necessary that it be done with all our heart and with great humility and sacrifice. Fasting is a useful tool in the war against ourselves.
This morning, I read a wonderful poem written by an outstanding Catholic writer and apologetic, Hilaire Belloc, entitled The Vulture.
Not so fast. Fasting has very little to do with food. It’s all about taking control: self-control through self-denial. It means taking back our bodies from our chemistries. It’s all about mind over body; spirit over mind; God above man.
Contrary to public opinion, we cannot do whatever we want. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Imagine for a moment allowing your children to eat whatever they want to eat or do whatever they want to do. They would sleep as long as they could; play for as long as they could; eat whatever they could; and study the least they could. I fear that many would die at an early age!!!
Food fasting is to the body what weight lifting is to the muscle: Before a thing can grow, it must first get ripped. Food fasting allows us to rip our bodies from worldly desires and/or sinful dependencies and reattach them to what is good and wholesome.
It’s amazing how body fasting can fashion the mind and help people walk away not only from food, but also from the Internet, from porn; from an exuberant amount of shopping; from soap operas and strip joints to Facebook and twitter!
It’s exciting how something so cheap and so easy can be so efficient and effective. Fasting may be a bit painful to the body and mind, but boy what a feeling it is to the soul! It’s a wonderful feeling to get your body back under the dominion of your heart and soul…”under God, indivisible, with unity and justice for all.”
Take the pledge!
Of course, fasting is all about seeking what is truly good, beautiful and true. It’s all about getting the mind and body to seek the one true, good and beautiful God. Christ is our true food.
There will come a day when we will no longer need to fast, but it won’t be at the end of these forty days. Not so fast! (pun intended).
The time will come when the Lord welcomes us to his banquet. It will be there, and only then, when the marriage feast lasts for all eternity.
In the meantime, we need a good food fight!
Thursday after Ash Wednesday(Click here for readings)Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he …
Ash Wednesday(Click here for readings)Jesus said to his disciples: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have r…
Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…”
Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. So before we begin, it’s important to figure out what we should do.
Attitude. “What are you going to do for Lent?” is an important question. “Why are you doing it?” is just as important. I wouldn’t say attitude is everything, but I definitely wouldn’t say it is nothing. Attitude is something. And it is an important something.
From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like Peter had the best attitude when he gave up everything to follow the Lord. In fact, it almost sounds like he was complaining a bit. Little did he know what the Lord would give up for him. [That's another story and we'll save it for another day, but I think you understand what I'm saying.]
There’s no use trying to be a saint if you’re going to complain all the way to heaven. So to live Lent the right way we have to have the right attitude. And what’s the right attitude? Cheer.
Peter’s attitude sounds a lot like some people we know from Sacred Scripture.
A. The eldest son in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
[Peter] “We have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?”
[The eldest son] “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.”
In both cases, the one who had the most to lose, the Son and the Father, responded in kind to both.
[Jesus to Peter] “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age…”
[The Father to his eldest son] “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”
B. The Rich Young Man
[Rich Young Man] “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
[Jesus] “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
We all know how that encounter ended. The young man’s face fell to the floor. He went away sad. But not so with the Apostles. Having accepted Christ’s initial challenge, they went away as happy as can be.
They were willing to sell all they had in order to purchase the field with the treasure buried underneath it.
Are you ready to make that purchase?
Lent is a time for reflecting, not for mourning. It is a time of contemplation, not of consternation. The sacrifices and almsgiving we commit to during the forty-days of Lent must produce smiles on our faces and on those around us, not because we are earning our way to heaven, but because we are experiencing the effects of His love. And love is what keeps us together. Love is what gets us to heaven. Love is of God’s desires.
Let’s bring some cheer to all our sacrifices and giving. Why? Because giving is the best way to living.
So let’s make a living out of giving!
Remember: Be confusing. But don’t get confused.
Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time(Click here for readings)As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, …you are l…
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time(Click here for readings)Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon…
One of my favorite parts of mass is the children’s offertory. The priest holds a large wicker basket at the foot of the altar. Children approach dropping offertory envelopes inside the basket. Brothers and sisters hold hands as they walk up. A shy child requires a nudge of encouragement from parents. Other children race up to the basket occasionally dropping in “surprise gifts” instead of money envelopes! My heart lights up observing the smiles that radiate from the young faces. I think to myself: “These young children are such blessings! How can a woman consider aborting her baby? How can anyone neglect, abuse, or harm a child? These children are so beautiful and full of joy! They should be loved and cherished!”
In today’s gospel, the disciples rebuke parents bringing children to Jesus. Did the disciples not like kids? Did all of the crying and whining give them headaches? Just like many people complain about the child crying in a nearby pew, I’m sure the disciples were annoyed at the little ones making a ruckus! Our Lord made it clear: Let the children come; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
How beautiful is childhood innocence: the carefree spirit, the playfulness, and the natural acceptance of others. Jesus didn’t pass over the children as insignificant. He didn’t ignore them like many parents ignore their own children today. He lovingly accepted and embraced his little children. He saw their innocence, unconditional love and trust as something good. In fact, Jesus instructs adults to be more childlike.
We live in a society where children grow up way too fast. The childhood innocence is short lived, no longer cherished and nurtured. Why the hurry to be all grown up? Why rush into adulthood? We need more childlike wonder! Encourage a little girl to play with her Barbie doll instead of dressing her up as Barbie for a beauty pageant crown. Allow children to be friends with one another without the pressure of “pairing up” as boyfriend and girlfriend. Encourage the exploration of nature and outdoor play instead of the exploration of violent video games. We should encourage our children to be children! Prematurely exposing our children to adult concepts doesn’t benefit them. God never planned it this way. Yet our society encourages, even conditions, our children to behave like little adults.
Children are amazing instruments of grace and love. They are the future of our Catholic Church. As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. we have the responsibility to properly catechize our youth. We have a responsibility to protect them from harm as best we can. Yes, it’s impossible for parents to completely shelter their children from evil in the world. However, parents can teach their kids good manners, kindness towards others, and a solid understanding of right from wrong. If we wish for the Catholic Church to thrive, we must make an effort to pass along the faith to our children. It’s not easy. Sometimes our efforts fail. Our children may leave the faith. But, as long as we make the effort, Our Lord will bless us. We must never give up hope!
As the Season of Lent fast approaches, instead of giving up something why don’t we spend more time with our children! Play with them. Pray with them. Eat with them. Read to them. Teach them. Show them how much they are loved. Always remember our children are blessings from God. Never take them for granted. We can learn so much from our children just like they can learn so much from us. A touch of childlike wonder benefits all of the Children of God!
“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
This meditation is written by Jennifer Burgin, a convert to Catholicism. Please visit her blog: Jennifer’s Spectrum of Spirituality.
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