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February 27, 2006

An Invitation to Intimacy

Yesterday our priest's homily centered around the scripture from Hosea accented by the gospel message. He said we must consider Lent an invitation to a second honeymoon. That is, Lent is an invitation to renew our intimacy with God.

I stand, perhaps in a better place to speak about this than many. Perhaps cradle Catholics have not had this experience. Upon first entering the church, there is a fire, a fervency, a desire to serve God in this new place that burns brightly; however, as the fuel for that fire tends to be sparse the flame is of short duration. Soon, from whatever cause, the fire has died down and is banked, the embers are rarely stirred beneath their fine white covering of ash. Such a faith provides a certain warmth and glow, but not the all-consuming blaze that the Lord would like of us.

Lent is a time to consider how to move once again toward that intimacy, toward an all-out conflagration rather than a simple house-warming fire. It is a time of renewal--not of hardship. The hardships of Lent are incidentals that receive entirely too much of our attention. Fasting, Prayer, and Alms are not strange entities to pull out only at this season--rather they are constants.

Lent is a time to consider all of our activities and to integrate them into the one goal of serving the Lord. This does not mean we abandon our entertainments necessarily, but that we refocus them and make them purposive. We don't stop jogging in the morning, because that is a good thing, oriented toward bodily health which in turn honors God and helps us to fulfill His purpose. But perhaps one changes one's route, or one's music, or one's thoughts during the time. Perhaps in the course of that regular routine, we allow ourselves the luxury of not listening to our Ipods and our white noise, but we take in the ambient and begin to forge a new sense of creation.

The same goes with all other activities. If we like to cook, we do not stop cooking, but we cook with God in mind, perhaps envisioning Jesus as the house-guest we have awaited so long.

In other words Lent is about repentance--literally, rethinking where we are now. This repentance should be more than superficial. It should give us the ground of real substantive change that last beyond the gates of Lent and brings us closer to God, even is only baby steps.

So this Lent it is my prayer that the practices substantively change my spiritual life and the lives of all of those who really desire change and reorientation toward God's way. I also pray for those who are simply going through the motions another year that it awakens in them a thirst, an ardent longing for a better life that is defined by more than material success. May their hearts learn to yearn for the Father. And even for those of us who already yearn, may it become the guiding light and the foundation of the rest of our lives. May the habits we cultivate in Lent take hold and transform us.

Posted by Steven Riddle at February 27, 2006 9:07 AM

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