Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Now is a Very Acceptable Time

Throughout the world, the Christian faithful celebrate today the beginning of Lent. Marked with ashes, they embark upon a forty-day journey of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and conversion as they move toward the horror of Good Friday and the triumph of Easter.

For me, this is an especially meaningful Lenten season. Since October I have been working with an outstanding group of women and men at Saint Cecilia Parish to prepare them for full reception into the Catholic Church. It is a true testimony to the power of the Spirit, and the tenacity human perseverance, that they have come so far in growing in their friendship with Jesus.

It's easy, I reckon, for many of us to start out Lent much as we begin the New Year: with a list of resolutions, of things we're going to give up, of hopes to help re-create ourself. We start with a sizable list and if we "do" one of those things, we cross it from the list and try to preserve our other "resolutions" until, after ten days or so, we find ourselves back to where we started.

Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Corinthians, encourages: Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. This "day of salvation" isn't a once-a-year event, like a sale at Neiman Marcus. This "day" is every single day for those willing to open their ears and hearts and ask, "Well, Lord, where would you like to lead me?"

For those interested in and looking for prayer resources, please allow me to suggest a resource put out by the Society of Jesus. Called Moved to Greater Love, this is a first-ever experience of communal prayer for Jesuits. Across the country, we have all been asked to pray together as one body, as brothers in the Lord. You, too, are invited to join us in prayer.

You can even sign up to receive the daily reflections in your email. I find this helpful as it allows me to pull the daily reflection up on my phone in the morning so that I can pray from the comfort of my bed!

Yes, now is a very acceptable time, not necessarily to try to lose ten pounds or quit smoking, but to come to know the Lord. Rather than fret over the number of times you swore, or how many candy bars you've eaten, such energy could be better dedicated to coming to know the Lord better, to listen more carefully to how God is speaking to your heart, and to enter more deeply into friendship with Jesus.

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