Sunday, February 19, 2012


Whats your obstacle to growing deeper with Christ?  Sometimes, I put so much on my plate I feel I'm drowning.  Between creating new programs, preparing for retreats, and ministry to 200 teens every week, I'm a busy guy at work.  Then I've gotta come home to my primary vocation as husband and father.  We've gotta get a garden going, clean this and that, fix those things in that room, put away the toys, feed the baby, go hangout with friends and family and the list continues.  How in the world are we supposed to even put a deeply spiritual relationship with God in there? 

"Blessed are they who do not see and still believe" Jn. 20:29

We tend to focus on the things right in front of our faces.  If it's homework, friends, sports, music - its probably just so visible you can't help but focus on it.  There are some exceptions such as the clothes that pile up beside my bed that I just walk over every day as if they aren't really there...  Sometimes that's what we do with God as well.  We know he's there because at some point either in the past few months, the past few years, or maybe a long time ago, we had this incredible connection or moment when we said to ourselves "My Lord and my God" Jn. 20:28. 

Lent is a time that Catholics recognize maybe our vision has been a blur and it's time to refocus on what's really important.  People talk about what they're giving up only because they're Catholic and maybe not recognize what the season is all about. 

The act of giving something up is like the glass that's half full and half empty at the same time.  It's half empty because the act of sacrificial giving.  We make sacrifices for those we love.  We learn what it is like to be without, we learn what it means to yearn for something.  We discover that feeling of hunger and can translate that for our hunger for Christ.  We fast, we abstain from meats, we give up something so that every time we think about it, it reminds us of how we're trying to stay focused on one thing - Jesus Christ. 

The glass is half full though, because when you make some space, our natural tendency is to fill it with something else.  When we make space in our life, and give a little more time, energy and thought - we're able to make a little extra time for prayer, reflection, praise and worship.  We "give things up" to make room for God.  This is the whole reason we rest on the sabbath - to rest in the Lord and be spiritually, emotionally, and physically fed by Christ's presence in the Eucharist and in the world around us. 

It's so easy to "keep on truckin" without making any time for self reflection - but this week, make some time.  If you're trying to keep a holy lent, here's some steps you can follow that will make the next 40 days more powerful than you could ever have imagined.  On top of that, YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO BE CATHOLIC - although you will be following just another valuable Catholic tradition that started for a reason, and was eliminated by those who reject tradition because it's not their own... Oh well - I'm all about our Catholic Swag!  There's a reason we've had the traditions for at least 1500 years...

Tips to a Holy Lent
1.  Find an accountability partner - someone that will walk along side you in your journey.  You can support and encourage one another as well as participate in your lenten challenges together.
2.  Give each other a little spiritual direction - ask each other where you are in your journey of faith.  Discuss your challenges in your life.  Discuss the things which take up the most amount of mental and emotional space. 
3.  Sit down with that person with an outlined set of goals and expectations.  Come up with your challenges, and figure out what you can do to support each other.  For example, text reminders, prayer cards, mailed letters, a daily phone call, weekly visit at starbucks.  If you decide to go to daily mass, or stations of the cross together - you can hold each other accountable. 
4.  Set up reminders - and do not allow yourself to slip - and if you do, your partner will be there to push you along the way. 
5.  Be realistic for what you'd like to accomplish during lent this year.  Make it challenging enough to be a real sacrifice, but not too challenging that you won't be able to follow through with it.  It may completely depend on your accountability partner to help you along the way and if they're not stable enough themselves, that is something to consider. 
6.  Don't make exceptions.  Just because it's _____ that's going on, stick with it. 

Last thought - if you want to change your life - change your habits.  People invest in all kinds of self help books, tests, etc - but really what it comes down to, is the things you do day in and day out.  If you can make prayer a part of your life and it's almost habitual, then it'll become infused in the person you are and the way you live out your spiritual life.  If you want to change your life, change your habits.  Whatever you decide to do over the next 40+ days, continue throughout the year and make your spiritual growth a habit. 

Find those distractions and tell them to GET OUT OF YOUR WAY!  Be bold!  Be radical!  Lay it all out on the table and give it all over to Christ during this time, so by the time Good Friday rolls around, you'll be able to unite all your suffering, all your gifts all your junk out on the table and truly unite yourself with his pain on the cross. 

Remember - you are His Hands and Feet!

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