Good morning and welcome to a fresh start. This weekend was full of blessings, everything from my family spending three days hiking, eating, drinking and relaxing with me in Indiana to finally completing my sacraments of initiation in order to fully enter into the Catholic church. Congratulations to everyone who participated in a similar celebration on Saturday evening. You are reborn! I hope everyone had a happy Easter as I did, surrounded by family for a long sunny weekend.
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of the week leading up to Easter and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. While Holy Week is a time of reverence and celebration for Christians everywhere, this year’s festivities hold particular significance to me as the week will conclude with me completing my baptism, confirmation and first communion at the Easter Vigil mass.
After almost two years of questioning and preparation, I will finally officially enter the Catholic church. I can’t wait! Not words I ever thought I’d use to describe the electric enthusiasm with which I approach these holy sacraments. Happy Holy Week! May yours be blessed.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Born as a Roman citizen in Britain, he was brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He escaped back to Britain after six years but the suffering throughout his life led him to a deeper connection with God which inspired him to return to Ireland. He is largely responsible for building and organizing the church in Ireland, instrumental in shaping it into what later became known as the “isle of saints and scholars.”
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, thus announcing the season of prayer and fasting with a sprinkling of ash and the reminder that “you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” As such, it’s time to solidify my Lenten resolutions. People tend to think of Lent as a detox period in which they starve themselves of a few of their preferred vices in the name of self improvement. While this can often provide a boost in general physical and mental wellness, that alone is not in the spirit of the season as it doesn’t necessarily address spiritual health.
Abstaining from sweets or social media in order to slim down or increase time management skills are certainly positive aspirations but what do you do with that extra energy or newfound free time? Self improvement is a happy side effect of Lenten fasting but isn’t the end goal. The sacrifices made during Lent should in some way bring you closer to God in imitation of Christ’s 40 day fast in the wilderness.
Lent is as much about giving something back as it is about giving something up. This may surface in the form of dedicated daily prayer or as earnest community service. Everyone has their own journey but let it be more than the latest self improvement kick. Do more than break a bad habit. Start new ones that renew your relationship with God.
In an effort to keep myself honest and on track, here are my Lenten resolutions in writing.
- Abstain from social media (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) AND say a Hail Mary every time you feel like clicking on social media apps.
- Delete online dating apps AND instead devote that time to existing relationships with friends (old and new), family and God.
- Check in with friends and family once a week by planning group dinners and events or simply by following up via phone to see how their week has been. Become the friend you’d like to have.
- Go to Vespers every week. Spend one hour in evening prayer.
- Refrain from mindlessly scrolling through emails and blog stats AND instead dedicate 15 minutes every day to personal reflection.
- Pray the Rosary, write down prayer intentions or just listen to the lyrics on your favorite Christian playlist.
This is my list. What will you give back for Lent?
This weekend I witnessed my first adult baptism, confirmation and first communion at the Pentecost Vigil. As someone who will be completing all of these sacraments at Easter, it was exciting to be able to attend this private ceremony for two of my fellow Right of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) members. It was an opportunity to observe the process first hand before participating in it myself.
I expected to gain a little knowledge and experience from the event but what I left with was far greater. I went away filled with a new appreciation for the sacraments and even more anxious to complete them in April. It was so refreshing to watch my fellow inquirers declare their faith and be accepted fully into the Catholic church.
This bold declaration of faith often seems difficult to come by among many of my peers. No one wants to sound preachy or be judged a pious goody-goody. I’ve struggled with this myself, even after my decision to eventually complete the sacraments of initiation. I know what I believe and I’m not ashamed of that. But speaking freely about it to people my own age, knowing that many of them feel very differently, is not something that comes easy.
However, no matter what your faith, it’s as much a part of you as the color of your hair. In order to truly flourish in life, you must accept yourself in your entirety and that includes your faith. If you are completely honest with yourself and about yourself, you may be surprised at the positive reaction from others. People appreciate genuine authenticity far more than polite affirmation so be authentic. Your faith is simply a conversation between you and God and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be a conversation among your peers as well.