Holy Week Reflection from the Treadmill

CrossTreadmill

I love Holy Week. Our Faith life is so rich and full and the sense of anticipation is great. You may have noticed by now that I have a Love/Hate relationship with my treadmill that is echoed this week as well as in all of my sufferings. It seems fitting that, despite the expectation of Joy, we remember the greatest suffering of the Passion and death of our Lord, and share in that by our sacrifice. Thankfully, the moments of intense discomfort on the treadmill have grown fewer and there are actually moments that the work I am doing isn’t my foremost thought. I am reminded that we are not supposed to suffer always. There are seasons for every purpose under Heaven.

In my own sufferings, my cross is one that will never be gone from my shoulders, and yet, there are moments when I am not ‘suffering’ at all. There are plenty of times in my day-to-day life that I am not thinking of my sorrows or feeling their weight. There are many moments that my inner Joy is more present and I am filled with a sense of Hope. I know there are many reasons for that, not the least of which is tremendous grace, but there is room for both to coexist. They need to coexist. The one is made more powerful by the presence of the other.

The mysteries of the rosary speak to this constant dichotomy of suffering and Joy. Out of twenty mysteries surrounding the Life of our Lord and our Lady, only five of them are sorrowful. We only meditate on them two days out of seven (Tuesdays and Fridays). The church, in her wisdom, sets aside time each year to dig into suffering, but only six weeks out of fifty-two. How appropriate for me that the timing of my toughest dates lead in and coincide with this time in the church. For those who haven’t known suffering of their own yet, meditating on the sorrows of Jesus and Mary can transform us. How can we have hope in Resurrection if we don’t first know death?

I don’t only suffer, but I can speak to it well for having spent some time there; I have really gotten to know death. By Easter Sunday, I will be ready to shake the dust from my feet, put suffering in its place for a while, and rejoice with the greatest Joy that (sometimes here, and always for eternity) I get to know the reprieve from “having suffered.” I will rejoice whole-heartedly in the next season of Resurrection, which fills my soul with untold freedom and joy!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.…” (Ecc 3:1-4)

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Yup, another post about Lent

Now that we have a few days of Lent under our belts, I’d like to know how you are doing and what you’ve given up.  If you are feeling a little wishy-washy on this, then this post is for you!  For all the stragglers, maybe this will be a little motivation. It seems like every blog I read has lots of Lenten wisdom to share about the purpose and nature of the Catholic practice of giving something up for Lent (note: this is not Catholic doctrine, but simply a Catholic discipline designed to help us grow spiritually).

Have you given up something that you know you can’t really stick to?  Or maybe you aren’t really sure what to give up so you haphazardly and randomly give something a go but don’t stick to it?

I’m seeing this with my kids.  They are having trouble committing, 47 days is a long time, after all.

And if you are an overachiever like me, then Lent can take on a ‘Larger than Life’ persona.   I feel like I should just give up everything and that it’s not OK to enjoy anything.  After all, Jesus gave up everything.  And what makes me think I deserve comforts and pleasures in the first place?

Others that I talk with are just sort of going through the Catholic motions with no real conviction behind their actions.  That’s always a recipe for failure.

Making a Lenten sacrifice can be very powerful though, so I want to offer a little encouragement to get back to basics and give it a go.

1) Pick just one thing.  Don’t fall into my trap.  Unless you are already a complete saint you will likely find it difficult to deprive yourself of every pleasure.  Pick one that you feel you can stick to.  Simple.

2) Make it a daily sacrifice.  Giving up junk food, when you only have it a few times a week, and you are always trying to give it up anyway, doesn’t really count.  Big or small, it should be something you can sacrifice on a daily basis.

3) It doesn’t have to be something big, it just has to feel like a sacrifice.  Don’t be afraid.  The discomfort is only temporary and the potential gains are eternal!  I’ve decided this year to do something small though difficult for me.  God can do big work with a small gift.

4) Remind yourself of the reason you are sacrificing every day and then sacrifice on purpose.  Why should you sacrifice anything?  If you don’t know, then find out. You can check out this great post on Interior Illuminations for starters. And then give something up willingly and with Joy.

5) Don’t give up something that is ultimately a good. One of my children (who shall remain nameless) said, “How about if I give up church on Sundays?”. Obviously, that is so far out of the question that it’s laughable.  (If you find yourself wanting to give up mass for Lent we need to have a different discussion!).  This may be helpful to keep in mind when discerning if Facebook is something you should give up.cake

It’s never too late, so jump in!  Keep in mind that this is not a contest to see how long you can go without chocolate before you are so desperate for a fix that you give up entirely and buy out the candy aisle at the grocery store (ahem.)  Stick to the basics and keep it simple.  The success is discovering what you really possess in spite of what you have given up.  Christ of course!  And what a Joy that brings. If we don’t practice this in small ways, then we won’t be able to call on it when we have no choice. More than anything, Lent is an opportunity, and by our obedience and participation we allow God the chance to shower us with spiritual gifts.

Isn’t the church Wise???

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2-3)