So Lent continues…Isn’t it funny that we shudder at the thought of suffering in general terms, but many of us are more than willing to endure it for specific reasons like rippling abs, bulging biceps, and toned legs?
Having spent a fair bit of time of my youth in weight rooms, I often heard my fellow gym rats screaming at each other what can only be described as motivation to suffer: “Feel the burn!” “Make it hurt, man!” “If you’re not sore, you’re not growing!”
These “encouragements” (often accompanied by large amounts of spittle), were generally welcomed by the person exercising. They knew it was true. They knew they had to embrace the suffering so as to grow. (“Get big or get out!”)
It’s the same in the spiritual life.
Just as we give up certain foods and force ourselves to exercise for our physical well-being, we need to wean ourselves from worldly fat and work out our spiritual muscles for our eternal well-being. That’s what Lent does. It makes us lean, mean spiritual machines more focused on God.
Keep up the workout and God bless!
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Ahhh. Lent is upon us. That glorious time of giving up chocolate, beer, and other necessities of life.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of the longest 40 days of the Catholic calendar – the cold shower that follows the festivities of Fat Tuesday.
A difficult jolt to our mostly comfortable lives, Lent is actually one of the most incredible opportunities we have as human beings.
Did you know St. Francis de Sales says our ability to do penance actually causes the envy of the angels. Not in a sinful way. But, we’re able to suffer for our Lord. We can make a simple act of the will – offer up a difficulty or do voluntary penance to the Lord – and they can’t.
Suffering in union with our Lord is one of the most powerful things we can do. Why? Because it makes us like him. We’re doing what he did. “Suffering borne well,” says de Sales, “will carry you closer to heaven than if you were the healthiest person in the world.”
It might be hard, but try to stop viewing Lent as something to endure, and start looking at it as an opportunity for holiness…Then start searching the lenten calendar for the feast days:).
Remember when you were a kid and you built some really cool Lego car or space ship? Then a sibling or friend would trash it and you’d have to start over?
Oh, the frustration and anger! All that hard work destroyed! Oftentimes, of course, our re-built creations were way cooler than the original.
Now older, we realize all that work was bound to be destroyed anyway. Lego plastic pieces may have a half-life measuring in the thousands, but the life expectancy of a particular car or ship is about 1 minute and 20 seconds…especially when building with rambunctious buddies.
Of course, now we think of our adult handiwork and projects in the same way we once viewed our toy creations. We freak at missed deadlines, rage at those who undermine us, and get all tangled up in the reindeer games of life.
It would do us all good to stop and remember that while our work is certainly important, it will all pass away. It’s all dust in the wind (especially if you live in Kansas). As members of the heavenly kingdom (provided we make it, of course) we’ll look back on these earthly days and chuckle, shaking our halos at our current frustrations.
Until then, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and relax. Build the best Lego life you can, but don’t get too frustrated when it seems to all goes to pieces. Instead, use it as an opportunity to allow God, the Master Builder, to help put it all back together again.