"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent - Part II

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"Have a joyful Lent."

"Have a good Lent."

Have a joyful Lent? Is Lent supposed to be good?

Why does something about this strike us as not quite right?

Why do we feel the need to say, "No, I want my Lent to be bad -- I want it to be hard"? Why do we think that penance has to hurt to be worthwhile? That if we're not unhappy or suffering, we're not doing something right?

This is how Father started his Ash Wednesday homily yesterday.

And his words fit perfectly with my resolutions this year. Confirmation. A small blessing. Gratitude filled my heart. Tears filled my eyes.

You see, Lent is not about doing deadly things, Father explained. It is about putting to death that within us which is deadly to us.

Prayer does this. Fasting does this. Works of charity do this.

And joy does this.

Joy puts to death that which is deadly within me.

Joy brings life.

Joy is born of gratitude. Of this, I am fully convinced.

I read this morning:
From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story.

Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.

Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?

Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.
(Ann Voskamp, one thousand gifts)
My resolution this Lent is to put to death that within me which is ungrateful. I resolved to pray in gratitude, to recognize the many blessings in my life throughout my days. To fast from whining and complaining and desiring that which has not been given to me. To teach my children gratitude. And so to bring joy to our home.

I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.

Psalm 116:17

May you, too, have a JOYful Lent!

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