Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Beyond the Days...

By Deacon John De Gano
St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

While Lent is still fresh in our minds, with its prayer, fasting and almsgiving practices to help us conquer and/or regain self control over our hearts and minds and bodies, we should set an even longer goal than 40 days (with time off for good behavior) to continue to reflect on what we were able to accomplish. We might consider making a permanent habit from our temporal “giving up.”

After all, we have proved to ourselves that we can survive with fewer distractions (TV, cell phone, etc.), smaller meals and more time with family and with God in prayer and in church.

How powerful a witness would it be to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters if we were to expand our fasting or abstinence? If we spent more time with scripture, attending missions and faith formation sessions, volunteering at our parish, our schools and assisting with literacy programs?

Of course these things would mean that we would have to re-prioritize our present lives in order to accommodate this further growth in faith and holiness.

And that worries some people…

“When is enough enough?”

We were talking about ‘the call’ of God in one of our Adult Confirmation sessions when I was asked that very question last year by a young man who wanted to know what the parameters of service to God were. How long he had to serve? How many ministries?

I was smart enough not to answer right away and took a week to gather my thoughts together, reflect on the Holy Scriptures and took my time developing the answer(s) I had come up with to his question.

The following week I asked him a slew of questions, such as, “What do you do now?” “How often do you go to church?” “Do you feel God calling you to do something but because you are lazy, or frightened, or exhausted you are looking for someone to tell you to ignore his request?”

“Could it just be indigestion?”

He responded that he was already thinking about vacations and retirement… from church life.

If this is happening to you, you might want to investigate getting a spiritual director to help you sort out your feelings and priorities.

In the story of the Transfiguration, Peter witnesses the meeting of Jesus with Moses and Elijah and wants to build three booths for them, presumably so they (and he) could stay atop the mountain swapping stories and having a good time.

Jesus has to remind Peter that there’s still work to be done.

So when we feel that we can’t give another inch. That somehow God will swallow us whole and there will not be anything left of our person if we do one more thing for God, remember that Holy Scripture tells us that God will not give us more than we can handle.

Life doesn’t have to be pretty. Or pain-free. Just that God will be there to walk beside us.

As long as we continue to draw breathe.

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