Lent…What’s the Point?

Conversion is the point of Lent.  It’s the turning away from the direction you were headed and finding your bearings aimed in a totally new way.  This is meant to happen for each of us regardless of where we are on our spiritual journey because discipleship is a decision we must encounter daily.  Conversion is relational…just as taking vows fifteen years ago signified the beginning of the bond with your wife, it is the daily decision to die unto self for her benefit that makes a marriage.

Unfortunately we often look towards Lent as a sort of self help project.  A time to curb appetites for certain pleasures so that we can come out of the 40 days being good, or a little better than before.  However, this approach to Lent is flawed.  It is directed inwardly instead of onwardly…toward the direction that God wants us to move.  Fr. Riccardo  talked about this Lenten flaw in his recent Ash Wednesday homily.

Tools of the Trade

Give alms…Pray to your Father…Fast without a gloomy face…(Matthew 6:1-18)

Traditionally, Catholics have looked to Jesus’ words in Matthew to forge the tools that Our Lord wants to give us to experience true conversion.  Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving are the three pillars of the Christian life.  They are critical tools for our daily decision to convert from our inward approach to life and begin living for the God who is never boring or disinterested.  If we find ourselves thinking that God and religion are boring, then we haven’t encountered Him and are projecting our own boring existence onto Him.

For most of us we spend Lent focused only on the fasting part and ignore the other two pillars.  Prayer and Almsgiving are just as critical for our conversion and provide ways for us to connect with the One who can bring us true joy and also encounter Him in our brothers and sisters…often appearing in His most distressing disguise.

Now is the time to use all of the tools that were given to us to walk down the path of holiness and experience true conversion during this most Holy season.  Pope Francis is constantly drawing us out of our comfort zone and implores us to heed Christ’s call for us to clothe Him, feed Him, give Him drink and visit Him.

“Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else, if it helps us cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bent down to his brother in need and took care of him.” – Pope Francis

“Put on the Armor of God” (Eph 6:11)

WOD 021618

Tabata This:

Wall Balls

Push Ups

Sit ups

20 sec of work/10 sec of rest x 8 rds, then move to the next movement.

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. -St. Augustine

 

What’s Your Plan?

Lent should suggest to us these basic questions: Am I advancing in my faithfulness to Christ, in my desire for holiness, in a generous apostolate in my daily life, in my ordinary work among my colleagues? Each one of us, silently, should answer these questions, and we will see that we need to change again if Christ is to live in us, if Jesus’ image is to be reflected clearly in our behaviour. -St. Josemaria Escriva

Note from Ron: I am publishing this a day early giving everyone time to prepare!

Lent starts tomorrow. What’s your plan? Are you “giving up” chocolate? Perhaps you’re going to “do something extra” as a way to grow in holiness.

Prior to experiencing the disciplines of Exodus 90 I normally gave something up. The toughest Lent, for me, was probably the time I gave up the use of all condiments. No ketchup. No BBQ sauce. No ranch for my pizza (don’t knock it until you try it). I can’t lie… it was hard.

But, now, as I look back I realize it was a joke. You see I found ways around it. I started to pile so many jalapeño peppers onto whatever I was eating I forgot all about the lack of mayonnaise. And, of course, a little vinegar sprinkled on top of that Subway sandwich was OK… I mean… it’s vinegar. That’s no condiment!

So, like so many other aspects of my spiritual life… I found a way to rationalize bad behavior.

Lent isn’t the time to rationalize or test limits. It’s a time to lock our eyes onto Christ. It’s a time of penance.  This is why I’m so thankful for the disciplines of Exodus. My brothers and I are locking things down once again this Lent.

No electronics/media unless it’s work related. No TV. No movies. Cold showers. No sweets. Vigorous exercise (think burpees… lots of burpees), no non Christian music, weekly holy hour, and daily spiritual workouts (scripture, reflections, etc.). There are a few other things but these are the highlights.

And, yes, I know… I may have lost you at cold showers. But you can do it. You really can. Just turn the damn water as cold as it will go and get in.  I promise the water isn’t colder than it is for my brother, Andy, who now lives in Colorado. He does it. So can you.

And if you don’t have a group of brothers to do Exodus with email me.  I’ll personally check in with you daily via text.  I really will.  You have no more excuses.  Join us.

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!