Friday, March 6, 2009

Another step...

Last night on the spur of the moment, I decided to "give up" my beard for at least the remainder of Lent.

It wasn't easy shaving, let me tell you. I had been growing it out for almost 2 months. I loved to groom it, to shape it, to play around with it absentmindedly. I looked at it in the mirror every chance I got. I was very proud of it. And all that is why it had to go.

I spent more time fiddling around with that thing than taking care of the house, playing with my kids, spending quality time with my wife (who hated it, by the by). It became a source of ridiculous obsession, of self-absorption, which is exactly what someone like me ought to be avoiding, especially during Lent.

The time I spent grooming my lovely beard will be better spent.

Daily Mass Readings
Ezekial 18:21-28
Psalm 130:1-8
Matthew 5:20-26

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Taking some steps...

One of the things we're called to do during Lent is to sacrifice. Give up "the good stuff" for 40 days and become more Christ-like. What good, however, does it do us if we don't fill our perceived void with something good for someone else?

Our parish is having its annual Lenten Mission. There are presentations by various parish and diocesan personnel, to be discussed in small groups the following evening. Our Adult DRE asked if I would facilitate one of these faith sharing groups. "Perfect!", I thought. "I will be able to share my vast store of theological, philosophical, and pastoral knowledge with some of the 'flock' and bring them to a better place with God! Just what I need. Just what the parish needs!" Alright, maybe I was not THAT snotty about it, but sometimes my ego does enjoy hearing it self bellow. Anyway, I told Diane I'd do it and met with her this evening.

When I found out what would be involved, my bellow died with a whimper.

In the folder of materials Diane gave me was a list of what a facilitator in this type of group is not. The facilitator is not to teach, preach, moralize, solve problems, or know, all the things I envisioned myself doing when I was first asked. The group facilitator is to encourage the spiritual growth of the group, to encourage the group to share their faith, to listen well, and be affirming. The group is not there for my take on the previous night's presentation - they are there to faithfully explore how God was speaking to them through the presentation, how it affected them, how they think it affects the parish community. My job is to guide the process...and pretty much shut up, with my giant ego in check.

Perhaps the sacrifice I am being called to this Lent is just let other people do the talking and listen for a change. I need to strive to be more understanding than to be understood. I've centered my spiritual walk almost exclusively on myself for the past couple of years. And perhaps that is precisely the problem. It is in giving that we receive, in loving that we are loved...all that good stuff in the Prayer of St. Francis. Perhaps I ought to try to put that prayer into practice instead of merely reciting the words.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.Where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury,pardon;where there is doubt, faith;where there is despair, hope;where there is darkness, light;and where there is sadness, joy.O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;to be understood as to understand;to be loved as to love.For it is in giving that we receive;it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen, indeed.

Pax et Bonum,

Daily Mass Readings
Isaiah 55:10-11
Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19
Matthew 6:7-15