Father Mike Coleman, Holy Spirit Catholic Church
As a small child I always loved Ash Wednesday. I must admit it wasn’t always for the right reasons. I loved getting my forehead dirty and my mother couldn’t tell me to wash up! I also loved fish sticks and salmon patties and I knew we would get one or the other on Ash Wednesday. I still remember the wonderful aroma in our house when I walked in. To this day I still love fish. Perhaps the thing I loved most about Ash Wednesday was it meant Spring Training was either started or about to start and that meant the coming of Spring and the start of my beloved St. Louis Cardinals season.
By the time I was in 6th grade I had a paper route and was earning my own money. Once a week I would purchase a 10 cent bottle of Pepsi and a 15 cent Snickers bar from the local drug store. It made me so proud to give that up each Lent for Jesus. I also loved serving Stations of the Cross each Friday afternoon at St. Rose of Lima School in De Soto.
I still loved the fish sticks and Spring and baseball coming but I now had a much clearer understanding of Lent. It made me feel like an adult to give up things.
I am now close to being 66 years old and Lent means more to me than ever. I no longer give up Snickers and Pepsi–as a diabetic I rarely indulge in either of those. I will give up Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi, which are now my drinks of choice. More than anything, I now realize Lent is not just about giving something up for a few weeks, although that is a noble thing to do and hopefully a part of each of our Lent.
Lent is about joining Jesus in 40 days of prayer and focusing on our relationship with Him. I will miss my Coke Zero and Diet Pepsi but I will get them back on Easter Sunday.
A few days ago Pope Francis wrote a letter to all priests of the Church and asked them to stop gossiping for Lent. That is a mighty challenge but I will do my best to keep it and hopefully beyond Lent.
I also committed to read Behold The Pierced One, a book of reflections on The Passion of Jesus by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
I will also read prayerfully the entire Gospel of Luke. IF done properly this should be a lasting influence in my life. I share this not to boast at all–I want those of you who know me to hold me accountable and make sure I do those things. I have often had noble Lenten intentions and not followed through.
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving Jesus asks of us. If we do them right it will surely transform us. And when Easter arrives on April 21st, surely we will be more like Jesus and, as an added bonus we will be one month into baseball season and hopefully by then the snow and arctic temperatures will have ceased. Lent is not only the gateway to a growth in holiness but a pathway to SPring as we see new life spring up all around us. I love Lent and for me it can’t come soon enough!!!!!!
Praise the Living God now and forever!!!!