Offer it up!

Yes, Lent is on the horizon again. I confess I am one of those who every Lent ‘try’ and give up chocolate and coffee as these are the two things which would be a big deal for me to give up. Those of you who know me also know that to an extent both of these things are medicinal (cough, cough!) but every year I make a valiant attempt to give them up. However, this year I plan to differ. My coffee and chocolate will remain but I hope to make an effort to source out fairtrade products and so I can make a small difference to someone's life at the same time as I sip my coffee!

Over at lifeteen there are some pretty interesting suggestions as to what to do so as to undertake a Lenten journey which is creative!  Some of them include putting a popcorn kernel in your shoe every day, getting to know your neighbours, giving up texting and calling whoever you need to talk to, wearing the same 4 outfits for all of Lent, stop complaining and being negative. Some of these may seem somewhat bizarre but I am sure that each one of us could add to the list. Remember Lent offers us six weeks to enter deeply into the work of returning and rebuilding a loving relationship with God and with other people. Lent is about something more, not something less.

Personally, before the Lenten journey begins, my first suggestion would be to read the Holy Father’s Message for Lent which can be found here. Tied in with this could be also to read his Message for World Day of Communication 2013 which can be found here. Why do I suggest this? Well, every year a discussion will arise whether to give up Facebook, twitter and the like for Lent. The latter message is a strong reminder as to how we should behave as Christ’s followers in the digital world. This year, I have made a personal choice to give up Facebook. Yes, there was a bit of himming and hawing but I was surprised how much time it can steal away without one realising it, probably all the more, because I am away from home. Don’t get me wrong, I have been a firm believer of the value of the online presence of priests and religious. I plan to keep blogging and will paste the link on twitter which will automatically link it them to Facebook so those of you who follow can keep reading. On Sundays, I will check in for prayer intentions as I am conscious that many people entrust their intentions there. If necessary I am also contactable on the email address connected to this blog!

So why the decision? The Pope in his Lenten message says: “When we make room for the love of God, then we become like him, sharing in his own charity. If we open ourselves to his love, we allow him to live in us and to bring us to love with him, in him and like him; only then does our faith become truly “active through love” (Gal 5:6); only then does he abide in us (cf. 1 Jn 4:12)”. Making room for Christ means decluttering our life and spending less time in a virtual world and cultivating a real, living and actual relationship with Him. I feel a need to go into the desert with Him; this is the beauty of this liturgical time. Another hope that I carry is to cultivate the various relationships and friendships that I am blessed to have. Being away from home does help to put life in perspective with regard to family and friends and how important it is to keep the bonds strong. Sometimes it can be more convenient to facebook someone than pick up the phone and call them. We need to be careful of not eliminating the personal touch of the little things in life which can mean so much to others without us realising it. We can make others laugh by sharing a joke; we can listen to their words, their silence, their sighs, and the appreciation of the presence of the other that sometimes isn’t as tangible online.

Once more, quoting his Holiness, he says “The Christian life consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.”  Lent gives us the opportunity to scale the mountain in a determined way so as to reach heights and depths of our spiritual life which allows us to experience the Resurrection in a new way, to experience a panorama which can take our breath away!

For those of you who choose to stay connected during Lent, remember the Pope’s advice: “In our effort to make the Gospel present in the digital world, we can invite people to come together for prayer or liturgical celebrations in specific places such as churches and chapels. There should be no lack of coherence or unity in the expression of our faith and witness to the Gospel in whatever reality we are called to live, whether physical or digital.”

So all that said, how about some suggestions for Lent?
-Try and get to Confession....please, pretty please! It's good to start out on a good foot with our souls clean. Many of the problems we have in our lives are because sin is eating away at us without us realising it. We continue living with unhealthy dynamics which push us away from the Father.We are all sinners, we all need God's mercy and love and He is just waiting to give it to us through the ministry of the priest! (watch this space for an upcoming blog about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession!).

-Adopt someone to pray for during Lent:  I plan on adopting a priest because at the moment, the priesthood is really under attack. They are the ones who give us Jesus in the Eucharist.

-One year for Advent I decided to write a letter each day to someone who made Jesus Incarnate in my life by their presence and their kindness. I am guessing that the same thing can be done for Lent. You could make a list of 40 people who have are special in your life and drop them a line.
-Give up checking your email, Facebook, twitter on your phone when you are talking to others or are in their company. By being more moderate this way, it increase how ‘present’ we are to others and that we value their time and the gift of their self.

-Offer it up: Every once in a while a new “catch phrase” comes up that everyone likes to say. You know, words like “legend” or “epic.” We have these in the Christian realm as well. Take “offer it up” for example. I could complain about wanting chocolate or alcohol but I’m sure someone would tell me to just “offer it up.” Some of these commonly known phrases used to bug me and induce eye-rolling. However there is a lot of ‘offering up’ to be done. You can do this with a specific intention. This can be done with small things and annoyances too. You also can offer it up without any intention at all and give it to God to use as He will. Not only does this put our suffering to good use but, from my own point of view, it certainly gives one a better perspective on putting up with that particular suffering or annoyance.
Well, the rant was a little bit longer than usual but thanks for bearing with me (you can offer it up!). Believe it or not, the random musings are actually fruit of ongoing prayer and deep reflection. Here's wishing you every blessing as we prepare for Lent! You are in my prayers!

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing that Sr Louise. I have a similar problem with chocolate!!!!
    I think I might follow your example of giving up Facebook for Lent. I have noticed since buying a computer, I read books less. So for Lent, off goes Facebook and I will read spiritual books. I've just started 'The Long Loneliness', Dorothy Day's autobiography.
    I would like to shut down my computer, but since I'm hearing impaired, it is a major source of communication and entertainment for me. In the rush of work, household chores and computer games, sometimes the quiet gentle voice of God is drowned out. I pray and read the Bible regularly, but at the back of my mind is the insistent and seductive voice to go back to the computer. It can be very addictive and time rushes by and I'm up at all hours.
    For Lent, I would like to regain that relationship with God where I desire to be in his presence to the point I don't want to leave. Not the dutiful checking in, hurrying through my conversation and rushing off again.
    May both our Lenten journeys enrich our relationship with God and our fellow travellers.
    Wishing you every blessing
    Mary ox

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mary, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Hope that your Lenten journey has been fruitful! Let us keep praying for each other.

    ReplyDelete

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