Saturday, April 12, 2014

What I (re)Learned This Lent

Five times a day, priests are required to pray the Divine Office, which contains, among other things--a four week cycle of psalms.  Day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out, it's the psalms.  It is always amazing to me how after eight years in the seminary and seventeen years as a priest, I still have, "Gee, I never really noticed that line before" moments.  Or, "I never really thought about that line before" moments.  It's one of the beautiful things about the Liturgy.  Every year, the liturgy goes through the same calendar and we do the same things on the same day, but discover newness within it.

Take Lent, for instance.  Every year, forty days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  I love the fact that we don't try to become more contemporary when it comes to Lent.  The Church never says, "You know, maybe there are better ways of becoming holy.  This year, let's forget about fasting, prayer, and charity and instead let's focus on other important things."  Nope.  Fasting. Prayer. Almsgiving.  Lent, two thousand years of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.  

This year, I've had the best Lent I've had in a long time.  That's not because it was without its occasional failures, burdens, or trials.  It actually had plenty of those.  Lent was great because it was spent close to Jesus and close to His people.  What was particularly beneficial was spending an hour each day in Eucharistic Adoration.  It was awesome.  It was also awesome because most of those days, I was joined in that time of adoration with others.  That time of adoration was so fruitful.  

We are always called to grow in our Christian life.  Sometimes, we grow by learning new things about the Christian life and other times, we grow by simply being reminded of things was already know.  Here are some things that I learned this Lent.  Nothing too earth shaking here.  In no particular order:

Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament is awesome.
Spending time before the Blessed Sacrament with friends is awesome.
Confession is awesome.
Hearing Confessions is awesome.
Preaching is awesome.
Preparing homilies should always include reading the Patristic Fathers
Getting hungry while fasting is kind of the point.  It's what supposed to happen.  Relax.
When you fast, you lose weight (added benefit)
When you give up beer, you lose more weight
The Scriptures are so awesome.  
St. Paul is awesome.
What you ask the Father in Jesus' name, he will give you.
Cripps Pink Apples are the best apples
I love living priesthood close to the people
Jesus' mercy flows from his wounds and he wants mercy to flow from our wounds
St. Mark's Gospel uses the word, "immediately" a lot
There are no loopholes in the Gospel command to forgive
Everything depends upon prayer
Living Lent together makes it much more joyful and effective
The penances that the University students come up with are impressive
Knowing that other people pray for me really gives me joy
God speaks through the Scriptures
Fidelity to the Truth is to share in the Cross
Sometimes, you gotta roll back the stone even if it means there will be a stench
What others can intend for evil, God can intend for good.
The Rosary is powerful stuff
I'm weak
Sometimes, the only thing to do when beautiful truths are being undermined is to bear greater fidelity to those truths
Priests should love each other
Charity precedes all else
Politics in the Church is a poison
Don't drink the poison
Jesus always surrounds me with people who teach me by their friendship
I have a great assignment
Everything the Church teaches is true.  
Mourn when the Communion of the Church is injured, never injure it yourself, and do everything possible to repair it
Say what needs to be said
Presume good will on the part of others
He is Risen
He is truly Risen

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