Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Let us climb the Lord's mountain that he may instruct
us in his ways so that we may walk in his paths.
Isaiah 2:3

Tomorrow we begin the holy season of Lent - an annual retreat when we "climb the Lord's mountain" in order that God may "instruct us in his ways so that we may walk in his paths." "Climbing the Lord's mountain" is a metaphor for simply trying to rise above the pace of ordinary living to refocus our attention and intensify our efforts on "walking his paths" more faithfully. To do that we especially focus on the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. 

PRAYER - Most of us tend to think of prayer as words we say to persuade God to do something he is not already doing. While it is true that we are invited to ask God for favors, the real essence of prayer is to ask God to change us so that we will want what he wants. After all, all God really wants is our good, anyway! Our Lenten prayer, then, is basically about our changing so that we will want what God wants rather than the other way around.

Going to daily Mass or saying the Rosary is always good, but that does not work for everybody. If you have a hard time adding more prayer time to your schedule, try carving out that time by turning off the radio on your way to work. If you find it hard to concentrate, try praying for the people in the cars around you. Try getting up a half hour earlier than everybody else and sitting quietly with a cup of coffee. "Where there is a will, there is a way!" 

FASTING - Often many of us eat, not because we are hungry, but because we are trying to fill an emotional void in our lives. When we fast, when we cut back on eating, we are invited to feel the pain we want to avoid. Feeling it, we can identify it. Identifying it, we can address it rather than numb it with food. 

It is a perversion of Lent to confuse fasting with dieting. Dieting is selfish. Fasting is other centered. Be it your daily Starbucks or that second beer, monitor your feelings when you "deprive" yourself Study your reactions and let them give you some important insights into your self. 

ALMSGIVING - When we hear the word "almsgiving," most of us immediately think of "giving something to charity." What we do in almsgiving is not as important as why we do it. Almsgiving can be selfish. It can make us feel righteous. What it is meant to do, really, is raise our awareness of our connectedness to others. It helps us remember that we are all in this together. "No man is an island." "We are our brother's keeper." 

Ash Wednesday has a way of sneaking up on us. Let's use the next few hours to get ready to go on retreat! Let's.......

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