Every year since I’ve been a Catholic (five years and counting!), I’ve really loved coming up with different challenges for Lent. One year I gave up eating any meat, last year I read the bible for 30 minutes straight each day no matter what, you get the picture . . . Over the years I’ve come to realize that it’s not just how much we give up or what extra stuff we do, but it’s about the quality of your sacrifice and what you decide to do.
How about giving up some of your time and using it for prayer? In fact, let me make the ultimate suggestion . . .
God offers us His grace and mercy every day, especially through the Eucharist. Because the tomb is empty, we have freedom. When Jesus descended into Hell he took sin and shame with Him. He left them there, where they belong. It is because Jesus rose that we are free. God’s mercy is so big. St. John Vianney put it beautifully when he said, “Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the great mountain of the mercy of God.”
This past Sunday my day started with a run. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone for a run or not, but you kind of get in this “zone.” It was just me, the sun, the pavement … my gasping breath (but that’s embarrassing to talk about) and my thoughts. I didn’t want to miss this quiet opportunity to chat with God, so I let Him know I was listening to whatever He wanted to tell me.
I began praying about what I should write this week and the simplest thing came to me. I felt like God was telling me to let you know that I’m praying for you. I honestly thought the idea was kind of lame (sorry, God). It seemed too basic.
Q: Eleven kids from church also attend my high school. We are thinking of starting a daily prayer meeting. We’re not sure what we should be doing. Any words of wisdom?
A: Man, that is so cool! From what I have seen at schools where prayer groups of Bible studies have been formed there is always a growth in the presence of the Holy Spirit that flows all over the school campus. If you and your friends truly feel called to do this…go for it!
So here we are, in the week that brings us Christmas. Even though we’ll be at Mass twice in three days, this is a week where it’s easy to forget to actually pray. I’m no sage of spirituality but as my Christmas gift to all of you, I’ll share a prayer exercise that’s been tremendously fruitful in my own life. It’s called ‘Lectio Divina,’ which literally means ‘Divine Reading.’