Thursday, March 6, 2014

Suffering and the Paschal Mystery...

"Although human misery is often reduced to cold statistics or media clips, suffering must never be depersonalized; it always has a human face."  - Father James Kroeger





I read a beautiful article today (you can access it here).  It is written by a missionary priest, Father James Kroeger, in the Philippines who writes about the suffering Yolanda brought before tying it into a beautiful reflection on the Paschal Mystery.  Please take a second to read it!

Also today I was discussing with a friend what we probably should have talked about, I don't know...a week ago?  About Lent (day after Ash Wednesday, good day for that!) and what we are giving up (oh, shucks...a day late) and WHY.

How when we were kids we would do the typical: no sweets, no TV, no movies or something similar.  Now, as we age, these go-to fasts are almost a cop-out...requiring no forethought and little more than a minuscule effort to implement them (not that avoiding sugar is easy!).  These are some ideas that came forward after a little hashing:

Offer something that will counter a sin or fault.  This is for those who are trying to overcome a venial sin or imperfection in their life (umm...like, everyone!) (oh, and lent is also a good time to give up all mortal sins...actually any time is a good time for that).  If you struggle with vanity, cover up your mirror or limit the amount of time you allow yourself to apply make-up and do your hair.  If you struggle with gluttony, offer up desserts or seconds.  If you struggle with immoderation in drink, give up alcohol.  If you succumb to gossip too easily, limit your time with those who are the easiest to gossip with or purposely say nice things about those you have previously gossiped about.  In other words, do something to counteract one of your greater faults.  And if you are wondering just what one may be: what do you find yourself confessing most often?  Pride?  Selfishness?  Anger?  Impatience?  

Offer something that will help you to detach:  Sometimes it is not a sin or fault that keeps us from growing closer to God.  Sometimes it is something that is good or indifferent but we find that we have an inordinate or even ordinary attachment to it.  This could be something like Facebook, watching TV, activities outside of the home, or coffee.  Limiting our time or completely removing ourselves for a short period of time from these things can help us to detach from earthly things and refocus our hearts and minds on heavenly ones.

Offer something that brings you closer in your relationship with God:  Sometimes in the offering up and detaching we forget the purpose of lent: to draw us closer to Our Lord as we prepare for His Paschal Mystery.  Increasing our prayer life, adding spiritual readings, going to confession, attending extra masses during the week and spending time before the Blessed Sacrament are all simple ways to draw near Him.  All you need to commit, really, is your time and attention.

Choosing what to offer up requires introspection and humility.  Giving something up for lent can be easy...but it can be difficult too.  

Tying this back to my post about the talents, what we put into lent is what we take out.  And the bottom line is that God has a great love for each one of us and wants us to be the best we can be.  He's giving us the grace to make these sacrifices...so we can do it!





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4 comments:

  1. I love your ideas about offering up something that helps you detach. This year, I gave up Netflix, and doing so has helped me detach from it AND helped me overcome the sin of sloth, and spend my evenings being a bit more productive (which is good)

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  2. I gave up Facebook for a similar reason, Amelia! I am wasting less time but miss it. I think when I go back I will try limiting myself...so I can continue the good things from lent without continuing lent. :o)

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  3. Hi! I am here from the Keep Love in Lent linkup! This is such a good blog post! I agree that it is so important to put a meaning or purpose behind our sacrifices. It is very good to give up chocolate or coffee ... but we need to have a reason. It's not just to give up chocolate or coffee. Maybe we have become too attached to a certain treat or food, and it has a hold on us. I gave up FB, too, and I also am fasting from the computer for a certain amount of time each day. My hope is that this will help me be more present to my family and love them better ... and as a result love Jesus better. God bless you during this holy season!

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  4. Thank you Sarah! I am listening to Matt Leonard on redemptive suffering (Lighthouse Catholic Media) right now and he says that we need to offer up what we value because the point of lent is to value Christ more...giving up what has a hold on us and loving Christ more...which is exactly what you are saying. Amen and God bless you! :o)

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