By Tom Quiner
The Catholic Church calls on us to focus on three practices during Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Have you ever wanted to know what the secret to prayer is? The late Thomas Merton provided a simple answer: “take the time.”
A simple and fruitful goal.
I’ll be attending an Ash Wednesday service tonight. The first message of Lent is a zinger: “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
The late, great venerable Bishop Sheen acknowledges the challenge of confessing our sins:
“It is so hard to admit that one is a sinner; it is so hard to climb the hill of Calvary and kneel beneath a cross and ask for pardon, forgiveness. Certainly it is hard. But it is harder to hang there.”
In other words, Lent calls on us to focus on Christ’s unimaginable sacrifice on our behalf through the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
I heard an interesting message at Mass last year. The priest commented on the high divorce rate in our culture. He’d hear time and time again from people who said that their “feelings” toward their spouse had changed.
He looked at us and asked, “what is love? Is it merely a feeling?”
Then he turned and pointed to the large crucifix in the sanctuary. “Do you think Jesus ‘felt’ like hanging on that cross?”
Turning back to the congregation, he declared that love isn’t a feeling, it’s a decision. Christ made the decision to die on that cross for us when He certainly didn’t feel like going through its degradation and depredations.
You and I come from ashes. We’ll return to ashes. Our life is a total gift from God who sent His Son to save our life. As Fr. John Riccardo once said in talking about Christ’s sacrifice, “if that’s the cure, imagine the disease.”
This Lent, let us make the decision to pray more, even if we don’t feel like it. God respects the effort and comes to us in our prayers if we only give Him the time.