March 2009 Column for www.Catholicfamilypodcast.com
Hello Catholic Family members. Lenten blessings and ‘can’t we go get a coffee and a piece of peach pie somewhere?’ Greetings.
If you are using many of the wonderful SQPN or other Catholic websites – you are aware that Lent is everywhere. Priests and deacons and e-family members giving you Lenten ideas and suggestions. Are you hearing or reading what they are saying? Doesn’t it seem like there are a lot of suggestions? Give this up. Pray this. Meditate on that. Read this. Do this. Take two of these and call me in the morning J. Yikes!
Okay – let me revisit a topic that parishioners hear me talk about often – it’s Madonna House (MH). MH was founded by Servant of God Catherine Doherty and she is being studied by the Church for sainthood. Catherine founded MH in Combermere, Canada and it now has field houses in about 20 locations around the U. S., Canada and other countries. MH is a mostly lay organization founded on the challenge of living Gospel life – everyday… in a most simple manner. Well – a simple, radical manner.
Foundress Doherty talked in very simple ways about doing things that are easy to grasp. Catherine talked about Lent as a great time to ‘Spring Clean Your Heart.”
She recommended working on the simplest of problems which become like sin-clutter in our lives. What kind of things? Impatience, resentments, laziness, jealousy, envy, and coldness towards those we love… they can happen in our day-to- day lives and even become ingrained. You can probably add to the list.
How to get rid of or at least work on these? Catherine told her people to pray and fast… fast and pray. But then she taught the staff that peeling potatoes can be a prayer. Folding laundry with love can be a prayer for the person who will use these clean items. And not ‘snapping back’ at someone (who may even deserve it) – that’s a form of fasting. Doing a small act of sacrifice for another without telling the person it was you – that’s an act of love and a form of fasting combined.
So while you and I may set typical goals (I’ll give up TV or I’ll cut down to one Starbucks a week….) – maybe what we’re really called to consider doing is to make more of our life a life of simple prayer and fasting. Let’s look at a paragraph which describes St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. “In nine years as a Carmelite nun, Therese (of Lisieux) loved God in the pursuit of her ordinary duties. With God first in her thoughts, she swept the choir loft, washed clothes, folded altar linens, escorted elderly nuns about the convent, and cut up food for a sister who had difficulty eating. Unlike other great saints, she did nothing noteworthy.
She did not found an order, build a hospital, or convert an aboriginal tribe. Though the little Sister is very good,” said one of her sisters, “she had never done anything worth speaking about.”
Did you catch what that sister said about the Little Flower: “she had never done anything worth speaking about?” Right… nothing worth speaking about unless you want to consider that she became one of the few great women Doctors of the Catholic Church and a role model for generations of children and men and women. You and I should be so much ‘never doing anything worthwhile.”
And so – between the themes and teachings of Catherine Doherty and St. Therese – we have models – Lenten designers who can give us concepts for day-to-day living in a radical Catholic manner. If you are burned out on Lent already…. Or if you are burned out on traditional Lenten concepts that don’t seem to work for you… would you consider surrendering one or two of those pesky faults and sin-clutter which have taken up residence in your heart?
Please – I need someone to do this with me – I don’t want to do this journey alone. Oh… speaking of Lenten journey – I’ve joined a few folks on another website blog found at http://thesefortydays.blogspot.com/ – please come visit Nissa Gadbois and Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle and others as they work to inspire your Lenten days. Their overall topic for These Forty Days is ‘surrender.’ Hope to see you there.
Meanwhile – I’ll be in prayer for you… blessings. Deacon Tom