Monday, February 20, 2012

What is is....and what it AIN'T

I have found that there is really no better way to start a blog post than with a nice glass of Merlot. It has been almost a year since I posted last and as we are moving very quickly toward Lent, I am reminded very much how much I appreciate the Liturgical Calendar. It wasn't really that long ago that I had no idea what a Liturgical calendar was, much less Ordinary Time, Lent, Advent, Maundy Thursday and yet I have grown extremely fond of what the Church has given us with the Calendar. The Liturgical calendar gives us a chance, if we will pay attention, to walk through the entire life of our Lord in a years time...and now we are entering the season of Lent.
Where I grew up in Mississippi, there weren't too many Catholics, so I really didn't hear that much about Lent, Mardi Gras or "giving stuff up"--it was all sorta jibberish to me and what I did hear about Mardi Gras was NOT good. My understanding is that it was a time for those heathen Catholics to get all their sinning in they could before they had to stop. That was the extent of my knowledge and it continued until 2oo5 when I began to study the Church.
If you are not aware....or maybe you are...Lent is supposed to be a time of self reflection for us. It is the period of (approximately) 4o days prior to Good Friday and it corresponds to the 4o years that the Children of Israel were out in the desert and also the 4o days that Christ was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. The Church in all Her wisdom has prescribed this time during the year for us to examine our lives to see what areas we have that are hindering us from our walk with Christ, or maybe to work through the sins in our lives that we hold on to that separate us from God, or maybe we have things in our life that continually pull our attention away from our time that we should be spending with the Lord in prayer or Scripture.
In the past there was a celebration on the day before Lent began as a last celebration before we went into this period of examination and penance for our sins--Fat Tuesday. Now of course this has been exploited (as much we are aware in parts of New Orleans), but to throw out Mardi Gras all together because of this is akin to throwing out Christmas due to the over commercialiation of the birth of Christ. Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday and that will be followed by Ash Wendnesday .(The joke is that this year the Church needed to save a day so they have combined them into one day: Fat Ash Thursday......but I digress.....) Wednesday we will go to Mass and the priest will make the sign of the cross on my forehead with ashes and remind me:"You are but ashes and to ashes you will return.." This reminder is of my humanity and how I am but man and continually fail my Lord miserably. I will (at least once) take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and use this time to find those ways to nudge myself closer to the Lord.
Lent is not so much about giving up chocolate or alcohol...although you could if it is a vice of yours, but it is more so about giving up things that manipulate your time such as __(you fill in the FaceBook blank, or the television blank). But if you decide to give these things up, replace them! Replace them with prayer, meditation, spiritual reading or dare I say QUIETNESS. Our Lord moves on us in the still quietness and that is so rare for us to have these days.
So what are you going to give up for Lent...What are you going to ADD to your life for Lent? Make it a good time for you and the Lord together and I can promise you, when Easter rolls around, you will be much more appreciative and closer to Him for the time you have spent.....and who knows, your good habits might stick!