Thoughts on Lent and Easter

In addition to being a blog post, this is also a prayer request.

Growing up a cradle Catholic, Easter meant a day we went to Church and HAD to get dressed up into something extra uncomfortable.  I never liked the kind of clothes my mother picked out for me.  The slacks were uncomfortable, the tie was like a noose, and the dress shirts just didn’t seem cool at all.  At a time when the homily was about moving past the suffering of Lent and Christ’s passion and into the joy of the Risen Christ, it seemed, I was stuck in Lent, suffering in a crowded pew and being uncomfortably dressed.  Needless to say, I’ve grown up and my appreciation for Easter and the rest of my faith has matured as well.  But God is always full of surprises, and these past several years now I find myself surrounded by a good group of Catholics, who have experienced the Risen Joy of Christ in their lives and experienced this conversion through their entry into the Catholic Church.  These friends are my good and loving wife, and some dear friends of ours who we were with during their entry into the Church 2 years ago.  Each year we go to the Easter Vigil, celebrate with Cardinal DiNardo, and then go out afterwards to celebrate their anniversary of coming into the Church.  These past two years, I’ve really recalled my own entry into the fullness of the Church through the sacrament of confirmation and the taking of my confirmation name, Peter.

I chose the name Peter because as a sinner, I can relate to someone who tells Christ yes with enthusiasm, but then fails miserably.  If Peter can become a great leader of the Church, then God can use me too.  Have we not all heard the cock crow thrice?  This has been mankind’s great fall since the time of Adam, that we would deny God and pursue our own will.  But it is also true that like Adam, we were made to Love and to be Loved.  I think it was Patrick Madrid or Scott Hahn who said that God created us, because His Love MUST share in it’s goodness.  That God’s Love is so perfect, that Love must follow it’s own purpose to commit to the action of Love that it creates the Life that becomes mankind.  And when Adam realizes he too is made of Love and must share this Love then woman gets created from his own self.  And that like God’s Love, that created Life, so do Adam and Eve; so does all mankind, imitate God by creating Life when sharing in this Love he has given us.  That in order for Love to be given, it must first be received.

Love and Life.  These two things are so central in our teachings on human sexuality.  From our teachings on the beginnings of life, to living modestly, getting married, to end of life issues it seems that in the center of who God is, He is Love and Life.  It is proof that our God is a God who IS, as opposed to a God who isn’t.  At the beginning of Lent we heard the story of God appearing to Moses in the flaming bush and when asked, The Lord tells Moses that, “I Am who Am.”  This declaration didn’t make sense to me growing up but after studying a little philosophy in the seminary, and combined with Bishop Flores’ reminder that the study of metaphysics reminds us that “Is = Is, and Is not = Is not.”  That God would identify who He is by stating that He Is.  It would be a very unfortunate thing for us for God to say that “He is who is not,” for then we would not know of a Creator who is omniscience, of omnipotence, with omnipresence, and omnibenevolence.  This is a very comforting thought.  That God is capable of all things and that His Love knows NO limits.

His limitless Love is easily forgotten by so many people who have fallen into despair; by so many who are in desperate need of His forgiveness.  But it becomes even worse when we deny the giving of God’s Love by not extending His forgiveness to others.  As we moved through Lent we heard the readings of the prodigal son and the adulteress.  In both cases, forgiveness is readily given.  The story of the prodigal son gives the detail that the father saw his sinner child returning from a great distance.  That no matter how estranged we’ve become from God, He is looking out for us from a great distance.  Anticipating our return and ready to give out forgiveness.  And in the case of the adulteress, I find it amazing that unlike the prodigal son, she never confesses her sins or asks for forgiveness because Christ never gives her the chance.  Christ simply offers her forgiveness.  During Christ’s crucifixion, He says and does many things that fulfill prophecy, but there was two acts in particular, that weren’t prophesied and become Christ’s last acts of His public ministry.  He offered forgiveness to the man hanging next to Him and He asks for forgiveness on those who crucified Him.  What purpose would Christ serve in saving us if He was not indeed forgiving us?  That at the center of loving us and saving our lives, He must forgive us.  Like the adulteress, this forgiveness is readily offered to us at all times so all that is needed of us sinners is to seek out His forgiveness so that we may receive it.

I reflect on these things because this post is also a prayer request for a family I know that has become broken.  Having known this family for 19 years, I have very much become a part of it, and very much feel broken by their brokenness.  There is a reason why families come together for Easter.  It is a time when we recall who God IS, a God of Love and a God of Life; a God who is full of possibilities because there is nothing too great for God.  It recalls who we are, sinners who’s lives are made possible by a perfect Love, who need the forgiveness of The One who loves us more than we can love Him.  Please pray for this family this Easter, that they may forgive each other and center themselves on the very Love that IS God.  In being surrounded by those who have such a joy and enthusiasm for their faith, I pray that we may all share in the same joy that comes with the Risen Christ of Easter.

I’m out like lent.  Peace, Love, and Happy Easter!

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