LENT 2.0

Deacon Blog                                                                  March 29, 2020

 LENT 2.0

What a turn of events this Lent has produced. Last year it was the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It’s beginning to reflect a journey of suffering and heartache. Whether our anxiety is warranted or self-inflicted, it is very real for many. But then…isn’t entering into the suffering of Christ what our practice of Lent about? Growing up I heard the stories of my folks, and their friends, describe the events of the Great Depression, World War II, the flu pandemic of 1918, and the San Francisco earthquake. Looking back on it now, I see their lives as magnificent efforts managing the “PTSD” these events left them with. I don’t mean to minimize the risk of today’s events, merely give them perspective. Mostly I would like to seam this into our conversation about Lent and the Divine wisdom behind it. A wisdom often overlooked.

For some folks, adventure is only viewed in the rear-view mirror. Life slid sideways into the “homestretch” of routine, rubric oriented habits acquired long ago. Activities such as attending Holy Mass involves patterns and memory developed as children. We can do them in our sleep. We follow what social security tells us, our doctor prescribes medicine and schedules to help us feel better. We have our friends and social events that frame our lives. It all seems so safe and benign when along comes Covid 19. It could be scary, for justified reasons, but I would like to challenge you to view all this in a different light. This applies to everyone differently but please consider it a gift with some intricate wrapping. You may have to work at it a bit… I am. The possibilities unfolding for me are exciting and have worked wonders lifting my mood as I face the difficulties surrounding this virus that stalks us and threatens not only our lives but our livelihoods. For the non-retired crowd, this can be scarier than the disease. For the non-retired, over 60 group things are doubly anxious. We only have so many earning years left and every “detour” from income feels devastating. I won’t even mention the stock market… oops I just did. You know where I’m headed with this. It isn’t just our physical lives being attacked. I sense the real target is our emotional and spiritual health. If our spirits are broken, how do we function?   How can we safeguard and grow our personal relationship with our LORD? Our “spiritual mood”. Our faith is largely about knowing we have been saved and expressing the joy and peace of this reality. This has not changed. The moment our sins were washed away at Baptism, the instant we confirmed our faith at Confirmation, every time we profess the Creed and pray the Our Father at Mass, we re-commit ourselves to being HIS disciples and working for the purpose that created us. As well as the purpose for which GOD came to us as man. It is our duty to consciously preserve this mood, serve HIS Will, and to make our world a better place. A place like Heaven. Our existence is no bigger or smaller than this, and no disease or disaster can alter this reality.  Enough existentialism.

So, what to do? Let’s start by honestly examining our lives as disciples of the Christ. I have never been in combat but I have been in situations that seriously put my life in jeopardy. As well, I am a cancer survivor and know the considerations in those situations. An assessment of our lives and the values we hold are the first items to reflect on. In our current environment, this is a good time to test what we do and how we do it through the litmus of the Catholic virtues we profess. Things such as chastity, temperance, patience, perseverance, kindness, humility (the virtue of all virtues). Or the Cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. These are the foundation of lives devoted to Jesus. These are the values we are to imitate. In times of stress and anxiousness, understanding our devotion on an intimate and personal perspective is critical. Let’s ask tough questions and open ourselves to learning the answers we need to hear. This is called growth, and the seminal moments in our lives (such as we are encountering today) are the pathway to deeper understanding. We can begin to see things in a divine, big picture sort of way. Because these blogs are short (some may disagree here), I will seek to provide a waypoint for you. The journey is yours. Please let me know what you experience.

My natural inclination is to look for the “Why” when things happen. Good and bad. Why is this scourge coming to us now, in this way. A couple thoughts. For one, this pandemic has forced us inside, physically and spiritually. Or it should. We have a great opportunity, without the clutter of our intellectual and social lives in play. If you are like me, you have become addicted, in a way, with a certain level of busy-ness. Activity builds on itself and forms a wall between our physical existence and the emotional contemplation necessary for relationship with GOD. I am beginning to realize that even my work for the Church can become a barrier to my spiritual growth and understanding if it is not symbiotic with prayerful discernment. Without prayer, I am easily distracted from the voice that seeks to be the “loudest voice I hear”.  Love the Lord your GOD with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength… Loving our neighbor is the same, but only if it is for the purpose of Loving our God. Everything else is “self” centered.

Finally, this respite has helped me to see the organic identity we have with the Church. We are its hands, feet, mind, soul…and funding. We must be willing to pick up this cross of isolation (and illness) and move forward seeking the WILL of the One who sends us. The awareness of who I am and where my focus should be is re-calibrating. Use this “gift” of time to sharpen your awareness. Take time to be alone with the FATHER. Learn to be still. These opportunities don’t come around often. Breathe deeply the Holy Spirit of a living GOD who longs to help us understand, in the most profound way, that we are Loved and Precious to HIMStay well, stay close. HIS Abundance and Grace on You ALL,

PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike

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