Lent 2014 Some Thoughts
We are almost half way through Lent and this year has been different for me than many before. Lent is usually a time of intense reading, or to be specific intense spiritual reading for me. This year I did not build a list of books I wanted to read or reread. Instead I found myself struggling prior to Lent even with what to give up this year. In the past I have given up coffee, ice cream, meat and many other things over the years. I was at a loss for what to do. Then a few days before Lent began Kevin Lowry posted a great article from Our Sunday Visitor called the 1-1-1 Plan by Greg Erlandson - basically 1 sin to work on, add one thing to your routine and give up one thing. The concept of this from Father James Shafer really caught with me. It has been an interesting walk during these first 20 days.
The second thing that has been very powerful for me this Lent is Father Robert Barron's daily reflections from Word on Fire. But to be honest the one that has stuck with me the most was Lent Day 7 - How to Make Room for Life's Biggest Questions in it Fr. Barron States: "The 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal said that most of us spend our lives seeking diversions in a desperate attempt to avoid the hard and simple questions: Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? What does God want of me?
We eat and drink, gamble and gossip, seek out the most banal entertainments, surrender to television and social media, attend party after party-all in order to avoid those questions.
Right now, identify the diversion that most distracts you from these questions. Then take some practical steps to rid yourself of it, or at least reduce it.
Are you preoccupied with eating and drinking? Then fast regularly. Do you watch too much television or spend too much time on Facebook? Then give yourself a specific limit. Do you indulge in idle chatter? Then resolve not to say anything mean about anybody (you'll find that your conversations are a lot shorter!) Do you socialize too much? Then refrain from non-essential parties for the rest of Lent.
Clear the ground. Clean out the system. Make room for yourself to ask and reflect on life's most important questions.
To follow Jesus into the desert is to divest yourself of diversions. It is to sacrifice the superficial so that the depth may rise. It is to still the chatter so that God's voice might be heard." I have left it in my inbox. Gone back an read it every day. I have shared it with Catholic and Protestant friends. It is an amazing piece.
Another great resource that really has me thinking and implementing it a website called What To Give Up For Lent. Basically each day you get an email or a tweet with something to do or not do for that next day. Some of them are really challenging, and some of them you will carry with you for days.
The next thing was a book I read this weekend. It also happen's to be free currently in eBook format from a number of sites. The book is Pope John XXIII the Good Pope by Wyatt North. It was a great little read and has inspired me to dig deeper in to John XXIII's life before his canonization later this spring. You can get the Wyatt North ebooks from amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Barnes & Nobel.
The last thing that really impacted me this weekend was the song and video Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher. This song completely blew me away. About my 5th time listening through it I started to cry. There is also a version of it he did live at World Youth Day 2013 in Rio. The song is incredible and is my prayer for the rest of Lent 2014.
Blessings and prayers on you my friends and readers this Lenten season and beyond.
Peace and Strength!
Yours, learning to be
Steven R. McEvoy
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"Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria."
"No tea cup is big enough nor book long enough for me to be satisfied."
"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left over I buy food and clothes!"