As a Catholic, I sometimes feel like Peter in the sense that Jesus wants my attention, but I am weary and tired. At times, I doze off
from weariness as life issues swirl around in my mind. When important liturgical seasons like Lent come around, I appreciate Pope Francis jerking me awake and whispering simple suggestions to energize and motivate me.
Pope Francis: “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
That statement seems to carry a punch with it, and I feel it right in my ego, and perhaps, this truth is why the Holy Spirit lured Jesus into the desert.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, then returned from the Jordan and was conducted by the Spirit into the desert. (LUKE 4:1)
A desert is a place to separate oneself from distractions preventing us from hearing God and to strip away our comforts so we can learn to trust God’s provisions. As human beings, our natural instincts is to think of ourselves and God wants us to think of others above ourselves allowing Him to take care of our needs. Fear gets in our way of accomplishing this easy task so we must confront and conquer our fears as Jesus did.
“For forty days, where he was tempted by the devil, during that time he ate nothing, and at the end of it was hungry.” Luke chapter 4:2
Modeling after Jesus we too fast during Lent by giving up indulgences, Pope Francis suggests yet, another way.
Pope Francis: “No need to throw out the chocolate, booze, and carbs. I have a different idea for fasting this year. If you are going to fast from anything this Lent, I suggest that even more than candy or alcohol, we fast from indifference towards others. When we fast from this indifference, we can begin to feast on love. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—certainly showed us the way. In him, God descends all the way down to bring everyone up. In his life and his ministry, no one is excluded.”
Do you feel him waking you up about now and rethinking Lent? I do, fasting has always perplexed me, but this brings it more into spiritual focus as does this short clip below.
As you go through these 40 days of Lent and facing, your demons check out these few ideas to make a difference in your community. I have provided a link below for volunteer opportunities in NJ, I know many of my readers are not from NJ, but you can find resources and information in your State or Country as well.
Some parishes are giving out creative ideas like this
A friend of mine had her children color paper bags, and she filled each of them with snacks and personal care items and gave them out to homeless people she met on the streets of NY. If you have additional ideas for serving others, please share.
I found this Lent & Easter guide that you might find resourceful as well.
HAPPY LENT !!!