Sometimes light reveals things that we don't want to see. Lent has a way of doing that. It causes a little bit of pressure and stress, and shows us just how weak we can be sometimes. In my case, sitting in the sun revealed some things in me that I needed to work on. Had I gone and escaped into the shade, I may have missed out on the chance to improve myself.
Sometimes God seems far from us. Sometimes it seems as if He's forsaken us completely.
When I was sixteen, my dad died from lung cancer. Both during his illness and after his death, I felt very alone, both in a worldly sense – none of my friends had lost a parent’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûùand in a spiritual sense. Part of me believed that God let my dad die, and that he'd left me alone to suffer and grieve.
You see, Mary is our Mother, whether we want her to be or not. God, our Father has made it so through His son's words. He knew our need for a motherly presence in the spiritual realm. So, with His dying breath, 'Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to his mother, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏWoman, behold, your son.' Then He said to the disciple, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏBehold, your mother'' (John 19:26-27).
How crazy is that? Now that is mercy!
Big surprise, huh? I've spent many of my 22 years dreaming up the most perfect wedding. And since the creation of Pinterest, the harmless dreaming has become a borderline-addictive pinning-spree of dresses, cakes and the world's most adorable flower girl outfits. So, it's only natural, that I fell in love with the story of the Wedding at Cana when I started praying the rosary regularly last year.
Perhaps the toughest part of forgiveness is forgiving ourselves. This Lent, I've made specific efforts to forgive myself for past wrongdoings. I've reflected on what lead me to those sins or mistakes. I've confessed them and have felt Jesus take them off of my shoulders. The freedom that comes with Jesus' forgiveness is life-changing. But we have to let it change our lives. We have to accept that He forgives us. He doesn't hold a grudge, so who are we to hold one?
Jesus Christ is both justice and mercy. The Law of Moses required for the woman to be stoned; He didn't fail to invite others to stone her. He even opened up the opportunity for others to condemn the woman, but only if they met the qualification that He knew no one (besides His mother & Himself ) could meet: 'let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her' (John 8:7).
Among all the people that were present, Christ could've immediately condemned her by His own standards. But He did not condemn her; He showed her mercy.
Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒI don't even know how she got on this show if she can't harmonize,' I said as I leaned back in my chair and looked at the TV.
'Megan!' my roommate snapped. 'You're not supposed to be watching TV! Get back to work!'
'I'm not watching, I'm just . . . ' I trailed off, unable to come up with an excuse. I sat back up in my chair and started in on my schoolwork again.
In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (Luke 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross.
Picture it: You’re in a hurry. You’re focused on school or work or family or friends, where there are a thousand things going on. You stop real quick to eat in the middle of the day. Halfway through the meal – or a little while after – you remember it’s Friday. And it’s Lent! And that’s a burger in your stomach!! In the words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”
When I was a kid, Lent didn't mean a whole lot. Lent meant getting a filet-o-fish instead of a cheeseburger in my usual Friday Happy Meal. It meant that the music at Mass got more ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏserious,' and we didn't say the 'A' word: you know, (Allelu—). It meant that soon Easter was coming and do you know what that meant? That's right . . . an Easter egg hunt against my brothers!
Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒExcuse me, you've got some dirt on your head.' Every year someone says that to me on Ash Wednesday. Maybe it has happened to you too. In the past it used to frustrate me, but in recent years I have come to see it as a great opportunity to evangelize, to share with someone about the most important person in my life: Jesus Christ.
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 . . .
Are you looking for something unconventional to offer up for Lent? We asked Life Teen missionaries and our friends on Facebook for cool stuff they’ve done in the past. This is what they shared.
Maybe God's calling you to reorder in that way. Or maybe He has a different way of walking with you and helping you establish order. Let Him walk with you. Let Him speak truth into situations in your life and bring calm to the chaos.
We waited all throughout Advent. We celebrated all throughout Christmas. Now we have the beautiful season of Ordinary Time to settle into a routine – but a routine that looks different than it did last year, because we're letting God in to our lives in new ways.
Have you ever noticed that the Bible doesn't specifically say how many wise men showed up in Bethlehem? We're told that wise men from the East followed a star, interacted with Herod, and made their way to the manger (bearing gifts) but nowhere does it say how many men there actually were. So, how exactly did this idea of the 'three magi' begin if Matthew 2 doesn’t give an explicit number? Is this just the byproduct of an overzealous songwriter thinking that 'We Three Kings' sounded better than 'A couple of Kings' or 'About Four Kings'?
We have a God who deals in the impossible. This is huge, life-changing, and has everything to do with Christmas. I think we’re so used to the story of “Christmas” that we can easily forget to spend time just letting ourselves be amazed by the story.
What would you ask Him? If you had a chance to ask God one question, what would it be? When I was little, I imagined heaven as some eternal question and answer session where we would sit around asking God those impossibly difficult questions that our older siblings couldn't answer.
As I prayed on the way to meet my friends, I thought about this blog that I had been tossing around in my head and the beauty of weakness (something that always sounds way better in theory than in reality) and I decided embrace my weakness instead of hide. So I shared my heart, along with some tears, and was met me with compassion.