In my recent travels, last week, as part of a road-trip to the provincial headquarters in New York, I had the opportunity to reconnect with friends in Stafford, Dumfries, and Manassas, Virginia. As I was getting close Stafford, I called ahead to my friends Michael and Danielle, to give them my estimated time of arrival. This was to be a quick afternoon visit, because I was expected at another friend’s home for a dinner at 6:30 p.m., and they were preparing my favorite meal of plantains, blood sausages, and fried fish. Michael and Danielle gave me a warm welcome and asked what I wanted to drink when I arrived. During our conversation, Danielle mentioned the two of them were on the seven-day cleanse diet. They had just started the diet within the last 36 hours, but Michael had already made the decision to break the diet, because of my visit.
We are just passed the halfway mark in our Lenten practice of sacrificing something to help us draw closer to God. Maybe you are like my friends, who found it very hard to stay focused and dedicated to their seven-day cleanse, let alone the 40-days Lent represents for us. Maybe it was the influence of a friend, or something that happened at work, or simply fatigue that led you to temporarily set aside your self imposed sacrifice. Remember, even Jesus was tempted in the desert, both with food and worldly power. We are not all as determined as Jesus was during his time in the desert. He knows how much we can bare. It is not the end of the world if you haven’t kept your Lenten promise. What matters is how you get back up and start over again. In 2 Timothy 4:7, the apostle Paul divulges his struggles in preaching the gospel of Christ, and describes his victory over those struggles. Paul speaks about fighting the fight, finishing the race, keeping the faith. Lent is that time for us to prepare ourselves and focus on what is needed for us to have that close relationship with God and others.
Have I fallen short of my Lenten promises of attending weekday mass, and giving up coffee, candy, gossiping, cheating, or lying?
How do I start over?
Does this mean I’m a failure?
We are human, and we fail, but God gives us the graces to begin again each day. Remember that God desires steadfast love, not sacrifice; the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. Lent is a wonderful time to reflect on God’s wonderous love and mercy, and to allow His forgiveness to take hold of our lives.
Peace and All Good,
– Friar Henry