Recently, the Sisters of Life in Toronto were at a nearby parish for Eucharistic Adoration. So, I had to go – I just had to.
While Jesus was still in the Tabernacle, one of the nuns gave a brief talk. Her reflection focused on the incredible opportunity before us – the chance to spend time in the presence of the Lord and His love.
Christ’s love for us is why He went on the cross. That’s why He suffered through His sorrowful passion. That’s why we have Easter.
Before we get to that great celebration, though, we need to prepare ourselves. Of course, you know, it’s something we should be doing all year long, right? Sure, but every year, once we get into the season of Lent, Holy Church places extra emphasis on the importance of penance and sacrifice. But why can’t we just make a good confession during Holy Week and skip the hard part? Well, because… it has to hurt.
NO PAIN, NO GAIN
The whole point of this penitential season goes way beyond just giving up chocolate or beer for 40 days. It’s about humbling ourselves before God and reconciling our relationship with Him. It’s about a spiritual journey of self-mastery over our sinful inclinations.
Jesus bore the weight of all our sins on the cross. With every loud, soul-piercing strike of the hammer by those Roman centurions – driving those nails through His most sacred flesh – He suffered more than any of us can comprehend. That pain, that agony, that’s what it took to win us salvation. The key here is sacrifice, and that’s what we’re called to do.
As Catholics, it’s our duty to imitate our Master’s example for our Church and families. As men, it’s our job to sacrifice, but that kind of responsibility doesn’t come without a price.
So, where do we start?
Giving up small things like certain foods will get you going, but come on, we’re men and we can shoulder more than that. There’s all kinds of stuff we can go without for Lent. Try sleeping without a pillow. Fast like a macho-man during the day. Unplug the TV and the videogames. Give up sports. Don’t watch any movies. Not talking to your wife for 40 days… wait, that doesn’t count, guys.
If you think doing any these things is going to be too tough – perfect! Get out of your comfort zone. It’s like lifting weights to buff the stuff – if you’re going to build your spiritual muscles, you have to pump some iron and put Arnie to shame.
I’m not saying you have to kill yourselves over this, because you don’t want to be overwhelmed. Don’t sweat it, though, if your sacrifice makes you a little miserable. Just do it! Feel the burn. Embrace it. More importantly… thank God for the sufferings.
In those moments where you think you’re going to break because you’re missing out on March Madness, or you’re going to die because you’re munching on salad while everyone else is savouring steak, say a prayer. That’s when God is ready to pour His graces into your heart – when we’re at our weakest.
Go ahead and ask God to help you through it. Turn to the saints – they’re more than willing to take your supplications to the Lord. Of course, you also have a Mother in Heaven who is always happy to help. Best of all, this is the perfect time to get in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus is always waiting for us in the Tabernacle. He wants to spend time with us. Just go and kneel. Go… enjoy the honour and treasure it. All it costs you is time. You don’t even need to say a word, but this is where you want to pour it all out. Tell Him about your troubles. Thank Him for everything that’s gone right in your life… and all those bad times when He was there with you.
Better still, this is where you want to meditate on the suffering Jesus experienced when he was scourged, having bits of flesh torn violently from His body. Think about the torture He underwent when the crown of thorns was forced down on His head or the humiliation of being spat on. He didn’t deserve any of it. You did that to Him and so did I. All Christ wants to do is love you… and forgive.
When we put Christ at the centre of our Lenten journey, the burden of that cross pays dividends. All of a sudden, you’ll find joy in your miseries. You’ll humble your heart. You’ll come closer to the God who wants to spend forever with you. All of a sudden, the hunger pains of Lent won’t seem so bad.
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