On Ash Wednesday, we allowed a minister to sign our foreheads with ashes, after hearing a Gospel that impels us to fast, pray and give alms, give to the poor for over forty days. For these forty days we are to probe the depths of our faith and sit with the messiness of our lives and prepare to offer this messiness to God to be transformed and changed. Some people may simply choose to “give up” something. We are invited to engage in the depth of the journey towards Easter. Thinking back to Ash Wednesday, what did it mean to wear those ashes from burned palms? Is it simply a sign of faith? Or is it a call to reflect deeply on our faith? Are you planning to give up something? If so, what time opens up when you give up your favorite television show? Do we replace that time by participating in a small faith sharing community like Connect Now? Do we make time to read the daily scriptures using “At Home With the Word” or some other daily meditation resource? How about simply taking five minutes or more a day to sit in silence, be quiet with Christ. For children it may be easier to use the activities outlined in the Operation Rice Bowl insert. When we eat that meatless meal on Fridays or any other day of the week, we can reflect on those who are poor, those who hunger for justice. Teaching self-sacrifice to children, learning self-sacrifice is a wonderful gift to prepare children for other life lessons, namely we can’t always have what we want. That is probably true for adults as well.
There are six weeks of Lent and each Sunday we are to call ourselves, and those who walk with us on this journey of faith, deeper into the dusty path that leads into the desert and eventually to the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus. We need to interact with others to better understand what we are giving up in order to give to Christ what is our best self. One step is simply to pray regularly with each other at home, revive a prayer before meals, all meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. It doesn’t require more time, just an intention to pray and thank God for the food we receive.
By following the activities calendar through Operation Rice Bowl we can grow in our awareness of the needs of others and reflect on ways to serve others. The recipes are tasty and interesting. Finally, in walking with Christ, walking with others, we might leave behind the silos that exist in our lives, thinking we can somehow be solely independent from others rather than interdependent. Jesus could not walk or work to achieve his objectives alone, neither can we. Let us journey together towards Easter.
Blessings – Father Larry