Saturday After Ash Wednesday

“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.” — Pope Francis
Still wondering what to give up for Lent? Chocolate, Wine, or Oatmeal Raisin Cookies don’t quite get it? When we include in our Lenten discipline service to others along with prayer, meditation, and fasting we are taking positive steps toward giving up indifference. One can’t feed the poor or care for the homeless, widows, and children without being touched. Our hearts fill with love for our fellow human beings. When we call attention to injustice and work to eradicate it we are no longer indifferent. This Lent give some thought to the following:
“When we fast from this indifference, we can began to feast on love. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again…If you want to change your body, perhaps alcohol and candy is the way to go. But if you want to change your heart, a harder fast is needed.” — Christopher Hale

Friday After Ash Wednesday

I consider the Lenten Season as a forty-day retreat. For forty days we leave the 24 hour news cycle and fast food world we live in and devote at least part of our day to prayer, fasting, meditation, and service to others. Whether its ten minutes in the morning or a quiet hour in the evening, we are on God’s time, not ours.
When we are tempted to quit, to give in and ask what’s the point, it’s time to remember that often it’s in the times we struggle that God is doing his best work on us. That work can be dramatic or so subtle we might not recognize it until weeks or months later.
The Lenten season requires a little faith and trust. It can be challenging to find the time to practice or participate in your Lenten discipline. But when we let God set the agenda for our Lenten retreat and trust in his wisdom, it will be as if we are “dipped in magic waters.”

Thursday After Ash Wednesday

Judge not others; judge only yourself.” What appear to be faults in others may actually be reflections of our own emotional afflictions. — Shakyamuni Buddha

During Lent we usually take stock, but I don’t think it is realistic to believe one can get rid of all our faults in forty days. Nor do I believe we should necessarily try — some of the things we might consider faults, might in fact be assets. We are not good judges of ourselves, so why not turn what we see reflected in the mirror to God during Lent.
It is difficult enough to focus on fasting, prayer, meditation, and service. So I must disagree with Buddha today. The admonition should read, “Judge not others or yourself.”
What do you think?

Ash Wednesday

Great athletes practice so much they create muscle memory. When they are mentally exhausted, their muscles still remember how to catch, shoot, putt, etc. As we get older our bodies remember the joy that the Lenten season brings. That’s right, it is not just our heart and mind that welcome Lent. Our bodies too remember the cleansing qualities of fasting and changes in our eating and drinking patterns. I must be getting really old, but somehow when I woke this morning it was not just my heart and mind that were excited, but my body too told me it was time. Now when a few weeks into Lent an oatmeal raisin cookie crosses my path, I still will need my heart and mind to keep me on the straight and narrow path, but for today my whole self welcomes the pleasure that fasting, prayer, meditation, and service bring to my heart, soul, mind and body.
A doctor once told me to listen to my body, and Christ told us to remain alert. Today it all begins, as the commercial goes, “Try it, you will like it.”