Monday, March 10, 2014

Prayer, Fasting and Good Works

I put this up on my last post and I think I'll put it on all of my posts for Lent. I just love the puts it all right there - clear and to-the-point.

I was sitting in PT last week (only 4 weeks until my ankle is back to better-than-normal!) and the woman who was working on me asked if the man next to me or I were Catholic. He answered, "uh, well, my wife is but...we were married in the Methodist church...I'm not". I answered that I was and she went on to ask us both if we had given anything up for Lent. I suppose this is more of my Catholic superiority-complex ignorance of religions other than my own. Do non-Catholics give things up? Is it the for the same reasons? The gentleman ended up saying "I used to give something up but it was just such a pain and it's stupid anyway, I find it hard to believe that God would want you to be unhappy."

I went on to say something trite about DH giving up snacks at night and losing 10 pounds because of it (he scolded me when I came home for making him look secular ;0) ) Truly, this is my sin. When someone spouts something that strikes me as so nonsensical I just go into my secular-mode and miss a great chance to evangelize. Boo on me. I will say, at the end of the discussion I said "well, for me, it's good to challenge people train for a's good to push yourself to see how strong you actually much trial you are willing to endure" (Truthfully, I said this directly in response to the PT who said "I'm going to go to the gym 5 days a week - that's really, really difficult for me!). Can I ask, as a complete tangent, why suffering is only acceptable in society if you are training for a race or giving birth naturally? That's another post for another time.

Ug. So, where is this going? I think I'm trying to work through the whole issue so I know what to say next time. I know what we do in our home. We pray more, we fast more and we give more. They are all intertwined and that is what makes them so full of opportunities for growing in faith. We want to give back to God for all the blessings we have been given. We want to feel "want" sometimes so that we can remember how blessed we are.

As I mentioned previously, I "gave up" yelling at my kids (well, one kid in particular). In place of that, I am choosing to see the face of Christ in him...I am choosing to see the miracle that God has entrusted to me instead of the loud, spastic little boy. I am trying anyway...pray for me. I think it would be easier to train for a marathon.

The fasting thing...well, I have to go back to what our priest said last week. If you are giving things up, that is wonderful. Doing it for that alone, however, can ring kind of empty. Give it up "for" something. Take the money you are saving on snacks and donate it to the local food pantry. Take the time you are saving from being online or watching TV and spend time with your family. Give up a day of gym time and take your kids for a walk (instead of sending them to the gym daycare room). Give up the radio or texting in the car and just talk to your family while you travel.

Yes, it's difficult but, back to the original discussion, it's about love. All of this religion's good to follow the rules - it's necessary to follow the rules - but if you are only here to follow the rules, you probably will end up unhappy. The joy comes from others - spending time with them, doing things for them, helping them to have more joy themselves.

So this Lent...I don't know what I'm doing/adding/giving up really except trying to be present in my life. I'm presenting my family with the opportunities - time for rosary, more time at Mass, Stations and Adoration. Praying at 40 Days for Life. Taking family walks to visit elderly neighbors who may need a smile. Cooking with my kids and ignoring the mess. Making meals for single moms or sick parishioners. It's my attempt to make it more than just "these are the rules we follow". It's important that my little ones know the rules and why we follow them. I also want them to know the joy that comes from self-sacrifice...that is never more joyful than using your denial for the betterment of others. After all, Jesus died on the cross for US.

We are so very blessed.

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