Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Prayer... Fasting... Almsgiving...
The words of Lent. What do they mean to you? I asked myself the question and the first thing that came to my mind was, “Boy, you better have an answer or you might get chopped!” (For those of you who watch the Food Channel, explain to those who don’t.) So rather than a detailed theological explanation of these powerful words, I’ll try and share some insights the words evoke for me.

When I think of the word, prayer, what I learned as a kid comes to mind. Remember the word ACTS. That’s prayer, namely, Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication. As I grew up I realized that those four ideas and actions were what helped me to reach out in faith and try to touch God’s face. That’s a very intimate gesture, and I hope He is reaching out to me the same way.

For me, Lent is asking me to look at how I reach out to Him. Do I have good habits of prayer? (Good habits are virtues.) Do I need to pull myself out of any rut that has become mechanical and not really conversation? Another way of thinking about prayer is asking myself, just how are my “conversations” with God going?

I wouldn’t insist on the idea, but I think that if someone doesn’t think they do or can have a “conversation” with God, 1) they don’t have a very broad understanding of communication in general, and 2) they doubt their capacity to believe, or perhaps are even afraid of believing.

For me, the most important thing about prayer is simply making the time to just sit and smile at God and let him smile back, another way of talking about intimacy. More than my lips, my heart does the smiling. If you see me in a grumpy mood, trust me, I haven’t been praying too well. Time for a good “examination of conscience.”
 
Then, there is fasting. Ah, yes. The big issues are: fasting from what? ...to what purpose? I copied the following paragraph from Creighton Online Ministries because I thought it says exactly what I’m thinking. I added the italics.

“To fast is to do without food. Its purpose is to experience the effects of not eating. It also serves to be a penance or a sacrifice - for the purpose of strengthening us. When we don't eat, for even a little while, we get hungry. When we get hungry, we have a heightened sense of awareness. If, when we eat too much, we have a sluggish feeling, when we fast, we have a feeling of alert-ness. Fasting is a wonderful exercise whenever we want to sincerely ask for an important grace from God. It is not that our fasting ‘earns’ God's atten-tion, but by fasting, we clarify our thinking and our feeling. It is purifying and prepares us to pray more deeply.”

Almsgiving is easy to understand and hard to do. For example, our Rice Bowls are handy little re¬minders, but God forbid that they make us think we’re doing all we need to do. They do make the point that fasting should yield something that brings us to others.

Last Saturday in one day I received no less than 11 begging letters. It would be so easy to get cynical about folks sharing lists and the like. The point is that I think most of the things I get are legitimate concerns that need funding. Here’s the deal: just because I can’t do it all doesn’t mean that I don’t need to pray and ask God to help me discern, and then simply get on with it.

If I can use the tools of Lent that lets each one of them help the other, then maybe Easter will be what it should be: seeing what Jesus has done for me and how he continues to do it for others through me ...and you.    
In Him,
sign frjim

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