Observing Lent? Try a Team Approach

Accompaniment and Lent

 


The forty days of Lent can seem like a long time, especially if one is giving up a favorite food or video game. It's helpful to have a friend to keep us going. He or she can encourage us, challenge us, and pick us up if we falter. And if that friend happens to be our spouse, so much the better!


This year, consider approaching Lent as a team. That doesn't mean you have to give up—or do—the same things as your spouse, although that's a possibility. It does mean sharing your Lenten resolution(s) and asking for each other's prayers and active support.  People often find that they're much more likely to keep their resolutions when they hold themselves accountable to another person. Knowing that someone walks with us, even if it's not exactly the same path, can be a great comfort and motivator.


If you're thinking about Lenten resolutions, consider the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (works of charity). Here are some ideas to get started.


 

Examination of Conscience for Evangelizers

“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: ... we are always ‘missionary disciples’. So what are we waiting for?” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 120)

I am an evangelization fraud 

It's true.  While I am regularly reading books on the New Evangelization, and am firmly committed to the 'art of accompaniment' as a theory, I’m not very good at it in practice.

Pope Francis has some harsh words for me in Evangelii Gaudium:

“Not to put the word into practice, not to make it reality, is to build on sand, to remain in the realm of pure ideas and to end up in a lifeless and unfruitful self-centredness and Gnosticism.” (EG, 233)

Fortunately, I am not alone.  I ran across an excellent article by Dcn. Charles Fernandes of the Diocese of Hamilton where he admits to also being a "faithful—but sometimes overly passive—Catholic." 

Our own intransigence, our unwillingness to evangelize, is by far the harshest theme in Evangelii Gaudium, the most difficult for me personally to hear.

In his lengthy personal response to reading and praying through The Joy of The Gospel, Deacon Frenandes pulls out a particularly useful examination of conscience for those of us invovled in the promotion, work, and support of evangelization.

Examination of Conscience for Evangelizers


“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: ... we are always 'missionary disciples’. So what are we waiting for?” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 120)



I am an evangelization fraud


It's true.  While I am regularly reading books on the New Evangelization, and am firmly committed to the 'art of accompaniment' as a theory, I’m not very good at it in practice.


Pope Francis has some harsh words for me in Evangelii Gaudium:



“Not to put the word into practice, not to make it reality, is to build on sand, to remain in the realm of pure ideas and to end up in a lifeless and unfruitful self-centredness and Gnosticism.” (EG, 233)



Fortunately, I am not alone.  I ran across an excellent article by Dcn. Charles Fernandes of the Diocese of Hamilton where he admits to also being a "faithful—but sometimes overly passive—Catholic." 



Our own intransigence, our unwillingness to evangelize, is by far the harshest theme in Evangelii Gaudium, the most difficult for me personally to hear.



In his lengthy personal response to reading and praying through The Joy of The Gospel, Deacon Frenandes pulls out a particularly useful examination of conscience for those of us invovled in the promotion, work, and support of evangelization.


 

Brace Yourselves: The Christmas Jesus Juke is Coming

Have you heard of the Jesus Juke?



The Jesus Juke is a great way to tell a friend, "I wish you possessed the uber holiness I do and were instead talking about sweet baby Jesus in this conversation." It's like a tiny little "shame grenade," you throw it into an otherwise harmless conversation and then watch it splatter everyone in guilt and condemnation. (From Stuff Christians Like)



It seems like Christmas (and maybe Easter) brings out the worst of the Jesus Jukes. Combine it with intentionally controversial or inflammatory blog post headlines and memes, and it can suck the Christmas joy right out of jolly ol' Saint Nick himself.



Jesus Juke
Jesus Juke:  St. Nick just made that sad trumpet sound: "whaaaa, waaaa."


Don't get me wrong, I love to be challenged to think a little differently. And I need to be reminded of the sacredness of this season when I am bombarded with advertisements that breed anxiety and foster materialism.

However, I don't love to be told that the way I celebrate the season is wrong.  I don't love the implication that some traditions are holier and more Catholic (yours) than others (mine).


Being challenged to think and re-grounded in faith leaves me open to becoming a better person.  Being Jesus Juked over family traditions leaves me closed and defensive.


Jesus Jukes can be dropped like a bomb on my Facebook status or in an email and I can walk away.  Loving reminders and gentle promptings take the time and effort of a genuine relationship. 

Insults and controversial headlines attract attention and are often amusing.  Genuine awareness of the holiness of the season inspires humility and a willingness to admit where I've missed the boat.


Let Peace Begin With Me


I'll be the first to admit that I've made this mistake.

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