Breaking Through the Wall

“I hate Lent!” was the exclamation that came from our almost-six-year-old’s mouth the other night. He was overcome with sudden despair because we denied his plea for dessert. It’s funny that he was being so dramatic; it’s not like this was the first day without sweets. We were three weeks into Lent; but perhaps three weeks was his breaking point.

“I hate Lent!” Ty whimpered. “That’s kind of the point,” my husband replied humorously. I chuckled. Ty didn’t find either of our responses comforting.

I started thinking about the exchange. Ty was “feeling the burn,” so to speak. The spiritual exercise of self-denial wasn’t very novel anymore, and his self-discipline and self-control were waning. For a child, it’s probably equivalent to a weight-lifter at the gym after multiple sets. At the beginning there’s a lot of enthusiasum. The first few reps aren’t bad; they might even feel good. Then fatique sets in…then mental exhaustion, and the thought of one more rep is terrible. Continue reading “Breaking Through the Wall”

While You Still Have Time

It’s the feast of St. John of God today. This is such a great saint to venerate during Lent, because he was full of compassion for the poor, homeless, and sick; and most of the people he served and physically cared for were all three. Essentially, he sought out all of the people that most of us spend our lives avoiding (consciously or unconsciously).

We roll up our windows as we come to the stop light next to the scruffy man with the cardboard sign. When the elderly get to the point that they need help caring for themselves, we move them to “a facility” and rarely visit them. When we encounter people who are ill, our first thought is often whether or not they are contagious, not whether they need help caring for their basic needs or those of their families.

In truth, we live in an individualistic culture that holds self-sufficiency as an ultimate good and ideal state of the human person. Not only do we not run to help those in need (offering many excuses for how they should help themselves), but we keep others at arm’s length when we are going through hard times, have fallen ill, or have reached the point of needing care and assistance ourselves. Continue reading “While You Still Have Time”

Fast, Pray, Give…in Secret

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start to our 40-day season of Lent. I know that we have all been considering (prayerfully) what it is that God wants us to commit to prayer, to give, and to fast from during this time. However, I notice a trend that may not be good. We have a tendency to be a little too vocal about our fasting, praying, and giving. In fact, conversations will often turn to the topic: “What are you giving up during Lent?”

Today’s Gospel reading squarely challenges us being too “sharing” about our Lenten sacrifices. Jesus, in Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18, gives us clear guidelines for how we should approach giving, prayer and fasting. He generally warns us: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Continue reading “Fast, Pray, Give…in Secret”