It is also probably important to note that today is St. Patrick's Day! I am not Irish, but I do love celebrating this day. It involves a saint's feast day, beer, and the color green...what's not to love?
St. Joseph's Day is another upcoming feast day that I look forward to- not just because it allows me another day to break my Lenten fast! I always pray the Novena to St. Joseph at this time and I have entrusted many important prayers to him in the past- like passing my comps in 2013 and looking after our friend Dan in 2014. In this age of chaos and selfishness in our culture and community, I am in awe of St. Joseph even more for sticking with God's plan for him and his family. If he would not have embraced his role as a foster father, who is to say what would have happened to us. St. Joseph, pray for us!
Laetare Sunday was last Sunday, which means we are more than halfway through with Lent. Now is the time to check in and see how we are doing with our Lenten promises of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If we have failed in any way, it's okay. There is still time to make preparations and commitments before the holiest of weeks in the Church coming up on Palm Sunday.
My fasting has been committing to the Whole 30 which is no dairy, no alcohol, no grains, no beans...so many things I love! I have certainly failed. But each time I did, I recommitted and kept going rather than call it a wash.
As far as prayer, this has probably been the most fruitful for me this Lent. I have been using the devotional book that the Christian feminist group I am a part of has been going through together this Lent. It examines the book of Exodus. The first couple of weeks were hard because we all struggled to understand why God would be so angry and vengeful towards Moses, towards the Pharaoh, towards His Chosen People. Exodus is also hard because there are so many sections about laws and practices that can be considered excessive and moot in 2018.
What I have taken away from the passages in Exodus:
- we need rituals and sacrifices and discipline, God doesn't. He gives us laws for us to learn and grow.
- rituals can bring community together. People can all use their gifts in different ways as offerings to God.
- We should not lose focus when other idols or "gods" tempt us from straying from following God
- Moses was given a really, really hard task. He probably should have delegated more! It would have been less stressful! His father-in-law, Jethro, tried to tell him to do so!
- We really need to trust in God and others, even when they seem untrustworthy or illogical
- Though Israel was the first to practice monotheism, God is for all of us. Christ expanded God's covenant so that salvation is for all people and we are all now chosen.
- We should not "veil" our worship or radiance for God. We need to share His light with others
And that's what I've got so far. I'm sure as we continue to journey towards Easter this salvific story will take new forms and meaning.
I also have been praying for many special intentions that were given to me at the beginning of Lent. If you signed up to be prayed for on my Google form that I posted around Ash Wednesday, know that I have been praying for you daily!
In regards to almsgiving, I always clean out my closets at this time and give at least 5 items to charity. I've done the closet cleaning, just need to take the items to the drop off location sometime before Easter.
Last year, I was searching for community, and so far this year, community has played such an important role in my self care and relationship with God. I continue to be grateful for His faithfulness and providence. I look forward to celebrating with all of the carbs and Alleluias in the Easter season!
Finally, this Sunday's Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent has so many beautiful and noteworthy elements. When I met with the RCIA group this week, someone was called upon to spontaneously lead us in reflection of this passage from John and the Holy Spirit really moved through her. It was awesome to see. We noted that the Greeks were following Jesus around, not just the people of Israel. And not necessarily because they were wanting to harm Him, but because they were curious about Him. We thought this was interesting for many reasons. For one, it truly shows that the Messiah is for all of us. And this really would have shaken the Jewish chief priests even more about Jesus' ministry. Do we want to be like chief priests who were intolerant of Christ and did not welcome His followers? Or do we want to embrace all who want to follow Christ like Jesus did, regardless of background?
Christ also uses this metaphor about a grain of wheat needing to die in order to live. He is foreshadowing His own death and Resurrection, but I think it is certainly applicable to our sufferings and deaths as well. Suffering and "dying" to self is necessary to produce goodness and new life sometimes. This is a good reminder as we near the end of Lent and prepare for new life in the Easter season.
Happy St. Patrick's Day and (almost) end of Lent!