A priest I knew very well used to give up smoking every Lent. Then as soon as Easter Sunday arrived, he took up smoking again. I found this very surprising and I once asked him why after going through all the cold-turkey of giving up smoking for Lent he took it up again immediately Lent was over. His answer was very simple, ‘I just like smoking.’
For him, giving up smoking for six weeks was a real sacrifice. It cost him a lot because he was not only habituated to it but he really enjoyed smoking and got a lot of pleasure out of it.
Every Catholic ought to take on some worthwhile penance for Lent. It should be something that is a real sacrifice and that requires some serious effort. It could be something as simple as getting off the bus three or four stops before home. It could be making an effort to go to mass on a Saturday morning or on another weekday. Or perhaps doing the Stations of the Cross a couple of times a week. A certain amount of fasting is another important penance that is very appropriate during Lent and which any of us could take up without difficulty.
Whatever the sacrifice we must make sure that we offer it up as our gift to God, recognising that it is our very small contribution to the sufferings that Christ himself underwent on our behalf.
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colours
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skilful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
A Prayer for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
you alone judge rightly our innermost thoughts.
Teach us to observe your law from the heart even as we keep it outwardly.
Purify our desires,
calm every anger,
and reconcile us to one another.
Then will our worship at your altar render you perfect praise.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
Washing the Floor
One student of a struggling seminary in a Third World country recalled his first days there with some embarrassment. The seminary was operating on a shoestring. It had dedicated lecturers and a deep sense of mission, but wholly inadequate facilities. One morning, after enduring the seldom cleaned washroom once too often, he burst into the principal’s office and complained bitterly. The principal, a saintly scholar well-known for his preaching abilities, listened calmly and then promised to have the washrooms cleaned on a regular basis. The change was immediate and apparent. And the student, taking the credit, basked in the congratulations of his peers. Having been successful in one area, he began to be more vocal about change in other areas. Then one morning, having risen early to catch a train, he went to the washroom and found the principal on his hands and knees scrubbing the floor. As he looks back today, he feels that no other experience so shaped his view of ministry. Jesus didn’t clean the washroom floor, though he did wash the feet of the disciples. How can we be of service in the week ahead?
Father Alex McAllister SDS