theROCK

It's Never Too Late

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What causes radical changes in our heart from day to day or week to week?  I can have days where I heavily invest in my relationship with God, and the next, push God aside and fail to spend personal time with Him in prayer.

A Jesuit at Marquette once told me that if Satan cannot tempt you into sin, he will keep you busy. Busy with work, busy with school, busy with extra-curricular activities. We run around all day until we collapse of exhaustion at night, only to repeat the next day.

That is the gift of Lent, to slow down and focus on what truly matters: God. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are meant to help us focus on our love for Christ over everything else that could control our lives. I, like many others, get caught up in the busyness and my good intentions fall to the wayside.

Yet, I am drawn to the second criminal on the cross. His life is done, he does not believe he can be or should be forgiven, yet he decides to put his trust in Jesus. Jesus responds by saying: "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise." It’s never too late. There is nothing you can do to lose God’s love. If you desire God’s love and ask for it, you will receive it.

Closer to God

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During Lent, I try to honor the 40 days of praying, fasting and almsgiving by doing something from each of these three pillars.  We often only think about the things we can give up during Lent, like chocolate or TV. While that is all well and good, it is important to focus on why we give them up.

There is supposed to be sacrifice involved. It is supposed to be hard - much like the sacrifice Christ made for us. Our fasting should bring us closer to God. There is the rub! Fasting is meant to eliminate those things that get in the way of us being the best versions of ourselves in service to God and one another.

This links to prayer. If our sacrifice is truly meant to bring us closer to God and others, there has to be an element of prayer so that we stay laser focused on the outcome. Does giving up chocolate do that for you?

Once you begin fasting and praying, almsgiving is giving back as an alternative to what you are giving up. So if you are sacrificing, you should fill the void with fruitful actions to bring you closer to God and others.

The struggle to fast, pray and give is real. It is yet another opportunity to align yourself with your fellow Catholics to ban together and support one another, not in misery, but in sacrifice to our Lord and Savior.