Fr. James Farfaglia: Lent and Our Spiritual Progress
A serious Lent is like a spring cleaning in which we cleanse our souls of the clutter that has been accumulating there.
Lent is a time for seriously questioning ourselves about our relationship with God. We might ask whether there are any particular sins or attachments that might prove to be obstacles to our achieving eternal salvation. A serious Lent is not only like a spring cleaning in which we cleanse our souls of the clutter that has been accumulating there, it is also a time when changes in the way we live our lives may be in order.
This Sunday's Gospel passage underscores this theme as Jesus makes it very clear that our decisions and actions do have consequences. Our God is a God of mercy, and he forgives any repentant sinner; however, this forgiveness does not take away from the fact that deliberate rejection of the truth does have a personal cost.
Many people in our present day have experienced profound conversions. The personal testimonies of life changing experiences bear continual witness to the ever-present action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all those who are searching for happiness and peace.
However, conversion is a daily enterprise. Every day we are faced with choices and challenges that affect our relationship with the Lord. It is not easy to be faithful. But God's grace makes discipleship not only possible, it also makes it an amazing adventure.
We must not be surprised that Christianity essentially implies a daily, personal struggle. Commitment and battle go hand in hand. We have to take very seriously the fact that our human nature is wounded by original sin. Discouragement is never an option for true disciples of Christ. Every day presents a new opportunity to begin again. God's loving mercy is always available to us through the sacrament of Confession. It is precisely God's loving willingness to forgive our sins that fills us with the hope of eternal life.
Constancy in the spiritual life, especially under difficult circumstances such as sickness or persecution, characterizes the existence of the true disciple of Christ.
In order to help us persevere in our friendship with the Lord, there are some very practical steps that we need to incorporate into our daily lives.
First of all, achieving personal order is essential. Serene and intimate moments of daily prayer will only be made possible by exercising personal discipline. Getting to bed early, following a schedule, eating dinner as a family, exercising regularly, and maintaining discipline in dress and personal hygiene are all important aspects of order.
Secondly, establishing a regular routine in our spiritual life is very important. Depending upon the circumstances of daily life, we can all strive to live out routines of a spiritual life. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours, assisting at daily Mass, reciting the Rosary, contemplative prayer and reading the Bible can be woven into the pattern of our daily existence. Weekly adoration and the frequent reception of the sacrament of Confession should be made an important part of our spiritual routine as well.
Thirdly, developing a sense of community is extremely important. Ideally the parish provides the most fundamental means by which we may experience a spiritual community of mutual support and encouragement. In places where this support does not exist, new lay associations afford a dynamic means of fellowship.
When all three are made to come together in the lives of Catholics, we see vibrant joy and enthusiastic apostolic outreach. This is happening in communities all over the country where people, especially young people, have discovered Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Lent is a very important time for our spiritual lives. Our Lenten journey should be difficult. The Lord will always give us the strength that we need to persevere and come closer to him.
Father James Farfaglia is the pastor of Saint Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Father has a hard-hitting blog called Illegitimi non carborundum. He has also published a book called Man to Man: a real priest speaks to real men about marriage, sexuality and family life.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention: That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
- 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
- Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
- Lent is almost over, but have YOU kept this Commandment?
- 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
- Holy Thursday: Take Up the Basin and Towel. Love is a Verb.
- Holy Thursday: He Loves to the End
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »