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Lent: It's a Guy Thing

Fr. J.D. Zatalava
©Catholic Online 2005

Every male who has celebrated his fiftieth birthday knows what Lent and Ash Wednesday is all about. When he opens the medicine cabinet door and looks at the array of brown bottles labeled Saw Palmetto, Flowmax, Rogaine and Retin, he quietly asks himself: "where have I been?"

When he closes the door and squints in the mirror seeing the crows feet around his eyes, his widening part, and those small, blotchy, almost but not quite imperceptible discolorations which weren't there yesterday, he quietly asks himself: "where am I going?"

That's what Lent and Ash Wednesday is all about. It's that time of every year when we all honestly ask ourselves what's really going on in our lives, and what are the consequences of what's going on in our lives.

My editor will not give me enough space to write about the glories of Heaven. I don't know that much about Purgatory, beyond the fact that it exists. So, I'm left with writing about every Catholic's least favorite topic, Hell. When was the last time you heard the "H" word used in the pulpit? I remember the last two times I used it I had people walk out on me. I didn't take their breach of etiquette personally, because I was reading from the Catechism of the Catholic Church when they got up and harrumphed the whole way out.

Some of my Social Gospel Only heretical Catholic friends get all bent when I point out to them the fact that Jesus used words relating to Hell more times than he used words synonymous with love. They get even more bent when I tell them that some of the most generous, compassionate, ethical, socially conscious, personally pleasant and politically correct people I know are atheists, and are on their way to Hell.

Why is it that we so easily forget that Jesus said His FIRST commandment is to love God with your whole heart etcetera. His SECOND commandment is to Love your neighbor as yourself. Does the second come first? Is one a substitute for the other, as in either/or? What part of First and Second don't we understand?

The Catechism echo's Jesus' reminder when it assures us that: a) Hell exists, and b) not just a few people go there... for eternity. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to [eternal] destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to [eternal] life, and only a few find it."

So, Generations X and Y, when you see those ashes this week ask yourselves: "where [the "H" word] am I going?"


Catholic Online's Featured Columnist Fr. James D. Zatalava is the Founder and Creator of the world's largest online religious e-education program for children and adults: A Diocesan Priest, Fr. Zatalava directs the development of all curricular materials for and is responsible for the e-education of tens of thousands of youthful and adult students worldwide. Fr. Zatalava addresses over a million Catholic readers every week through this column.

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Father James D. Zatalava - Founder, 814 571-6099




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