St. Paul had to deal with a lot of 'high minded', philosophical types in his day. Most were very prideful, long on academics but short on humility. Some people back then claimed that Jesus didn't really rise from the dead (as we celebrate this weekend). Rather than mince words, Paul gave it to them straight (in the verse up above). Many people will tell you that 'based on human logic' the Resurrection makes no sense. The first thing we need to remember is that 'human logic' is not omnipotence. God makes it very clear that '(His) ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts.' (Is. 55:8-9)
We are all works-in-progress. I’ve got my own weeds that need pulling, rocks that need moving, branches that need pruning. I’m a mess. And as soon as I think I’ve got one thing under control, something else pops up and knocks me down again. But God is the most patient gardener, who never stops working so that I might become what He wants me to be, and bear fruit. He doesn’t care what it costs.
I recently heard someone ranting about how commercialized Easter has become and how there is “no trace of Christ” left in His holiday. I understood the person’s concerns and agreed, in part, with their assertions. The more I got to thinking about it, though, I felt like their thoughts, while valid, were a little bit short…sighted.
Christ is everywhere. His death and resurrection are everywhere. We just need to know where to look and how to uncover them.
Or, maybe for some of you they don’t and you’ve been able to keep a solid Lenten journey? Regardless, there’s always room for growth, depth… and some Lenten punches of improvement.
Here are some practical suggestions to help you in the remaining time of Lent.
I know you guys lead busy lives. Our culture, your teachers, parents, friends, yourself – there is pressure from every direction to boost your resume and increase your chances of getting into the very best college. The result of this pressure is an overwhelming schedule that includes: school, homework, time with the Lord, family, a social life, part time jobs, clubs, honor society, athletics, volunteer work and oh yeah… sleep.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure not only to participate in most, or all, of these things, but to do them all perfectly. You are expected as a freshman in high school to juggle a schedule that is four times what it should be.
This is a problem in our culture, but the bigger problem is – it has become the norm. Anything less than this business is perceived as laziness.
The Stations of the Cross are prayers that help us meditate on Jesus’ Passion and sacrifice for us. They incorporate the use of Scripture, prayers, meditations, and songs while traveling to 14 stations. The Stations are based upon Scriptural accounts from the time when Jesus was condemned to death until He was laid in the tomb. The practice of taking a pilgrimage to follow Jesus’ steps on the way to His crucifixion has existed since the early Church. It’s an opportunity for us to truly enter into the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ passion and death, which prepares us for His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
I probably don’t need to remind you of this, every fast food chain flashing signs of fish sandwiches is reminder enough.
But just in case…
It is still Lent.
I would imagine this reality will either elicit two kinds of responses in you. Either you are coasting through Lent without much struggle to keep your Lenten promises, or you are wondering how in the world you are going to keep to your fasts the remainder of Lent.
But when I really look at my heart, I’ve begun to wonder if I feel more affirmed by the Lord’s love in my life or by the little endorphine-hit I get when someone retweets me. So this year I’m giving up social media for Lent. No Valencia-filtered selfies. No “Let it Go” covers. No check-ins at my favorite coffee shop. Instead, I’ve got five reasons why giving up social media for Lent is going to be great for my life.
So, I committed: 40 minutes of “devotional time” every single day. You can call it quiet time, prayer time, or just… time – whatever you need to call it so it doesn’t sound like a punishment. I didn’t really know what to call it. I just knew that I was going to do it.
Think about it: 40 minutes isn’t a huge block of time. It’s one drama or two sitcoms on Netflix. We can all find 40 minutes in a day. We just have to choose to do it.
However, I worry that if we don’t learn to use things for the good of the Kingdom of God, we might be missing the boat. It’s the same with using your humor to glorify God, or using your body to glorify God, or using your music to glorify God – we can use our phones the same way.
Here’s the thing about Lent: Your thing is your thing. What you give up and what you add on is between you and God, not you and your friends. If you want to bring them into it, asking them to walk with you or hold you accountable, all power to you. If you don’t want anyone but God to know, that’s okay, too.
If, however, you take every opportunity (consciously or unconsciously) to share just how much you’re giving up or how much you’re doing, it’s not holiness you’re seeking — it’s attention.
Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.
Even though they were late arrivals, that didn’t stop them from having a life-changing encounter with Jesus. When they finally made it the place Jesus was they were overjoyed. When they saw “the child with Mary his mother, they prostrated themselves and did him homage. They opened their treasures” to Him and allowed Jesus into their lives (Matthew 2:10-11).
When I think of Advent, I often think about how we witness so many historical events that led up to the birth of Jesus. From Old Testament readings, to Mary’s Annunciation, to purple and rose colored candles and more. I started to realize, though, that maybe my involvement in Advent has been more like spectating than participating.
Everyone knows the Christmas story and expects to hear it at Mass. You’d have to try really hard to live in America and not know the basics of the Christmas narrative.
But instead of hearing about shepherds scared by angels and a divine baby dressed in swaddling clothes, we hear the genealogy of Jesus all the way from Abraham down to Joseph (Mary’s husband, not the Old Testament Technicolor Dreamcoat guy). This probably leaves more than a few people wondering if maybe the priest messed up and is reading from the wrong book.
I’ll never forget when I learned Jesus wasn't really born on December 25th. It shocked me. I felt cheated … like somehow my adolescent life had just lost some of its innocence. Thank God, I thought, Santa was still real … that would have really shattered my holiday season.
I’m not going to say all guys are like this… but it is how a lot of people place value on their lives. What you do and how much stuff you have is generally what a person is judged by – especially a man. Do more stuff! Buy more things! Wear good clothes! Work harder than Jobs at your jobs! Be more successful than Wayne Wright! Don’t know who that is? Me neither. But some dude has that name and he obviously wasn’t good enough to accomplish things.
Advent is a time to “get ready” for the celebration of the birth of Christ. If you’re like me, the past few weeks of Advent have been a challenge. I’ve been running around crazy! And I know this is a busy time for everyone with school, family, etc.
As it is with the Christian life, if we want to see clearly … as God sees … we have to look at the 'big picture' of salvation. If we want to understand Jesus' death, for instance, we need to begin with His birth and when we do, we will undoubtedly learn something very interesting . . . that He was born to die.
If you want to get technical, that 'pieta' moment first occurred not on Calvary, but in Bethlehem. The manger's wood was a foreshadowing; it is the 'cross' of Christmas. There is far more going on at Jesus' birth than many of us realize upon first glance.
See, I’m not that embarrassed about being afraid of roaches. They’re nasty and no one likes them. All throughout high school and college, my biggest fear was actually that I wouldn’t end up being a good dad/husband. Many of my friends came from divorced homes. I never understood what was so hard about it until my parents got divorced in junior year. I thought, “Welp, that’s it for me. Your family is your foundation. If it’s broken, I’m broken.”