Archive for the ‘Lent’ Tag

spring cleaning for the soul

How I wish it were spring. It is a dreary, cold, New England March day, and today I have made the official pronouncement: I am ready for spring.  Now, I adore New England winters. I love the cold days, the snow, the slightly ever-grey sky, the excuse to curl up with a good book and a mug of coffee. But inevitably at some point I start to pine for spring, and that time is now.

Since I can’t make spring weather appear, I decided to go to the next-best thing—spring cleaning! I found a great Spring Cleaning Challenge through Pinterest and decided to begin to ready our home for spring. I don’t know who came up with the idea of spring cleaning, but it is a brilliant concept—after a winter of being holed up in our apartment and baking almost every day, we are very much ready for a good spring cleaning.

Is Lent, perhaps, “spring cleaning for the soul?” We rush around the rest of the year, preparing for different milestones—both liturgical and non—4th of July picnics, the first day of school,  Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas. Each season has its challenges and highlights. But Lent is quiet. Lent is reflective. It is sacrificial. It’s a time when we “clean house,” but in a spiritual way. Wouldn’t it be neat to make a spiritual spring cleaning list?  To think of all of the things I need to get rid of—grudges, hurt, guilt, misunderstandings—and try to work through each one before Easter?

Now is the perfect time. This Sunday is Laetare Sunday—Laetare is Latin for “Rejoice!” and this Sunday we rejoice that we are getting close to Easter.  Laetare Sunday is about the half way mark between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, which makes it the perfect time to check in with myself about my Lenten journey.  Have I been keeping up with my additional prayers? Have I been sacrificing the little things that I promised I would?  I think that I may draft a list—a “soul cleaning” challenge—and pray that I can enter into the joyful Easter season with a clean heart, fully ready to embrace the wonder of Christ’s Resurrection. And of course, the warmer weather.

unconditional love

If you are looking for a good devotional for Lent, check out the daily “3 minute Retreat” from Loyola Press. It is a lovely way to find a few moments of peace each day.  This morning, I sat with my freshly brewed cup of coffee and prayed today’s retreat. Today’s theme is “unconditional love,” using the story of the Prodigal Son as the focal point.  I find that each time I hear the story of the Prodigal Son, I hear something new.  Today the story got me thinking about how blessed we are to have such a loving, forgiving God.

I love being Catholic, and I have to say, one of my favorite parts of Catholicism is the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I have to admit that I didn’t always see the need for Reconciliation.  As a child (and let’s be honest, as an adult as well) I found it difficult to acknowledge when I was wrong.   I remember one afternoon before Mass, many years ago, my Mom made my brothers and me go to Reconciliation, and I felt that I had absolutely nothing to confess.  Since I was a perfect little kid, (ha!) I really could not think of a single thing to confess to this priest. So, I lied. I made up all kinds of sins.  Then, after receiving absolution, I marched right out of that confessional and got back in line. When I returned to the same priest a few minutes later, he looked at me quizzically but didn’t acknowledge that I had been there a mere five minutes earlier.

So I mustered up my courage and said, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was five minutes ago.”

“What would you like to confess?” he asked with a hint of a smile.

“I lied to a priest,” I admitted sheepishly.

He laughed, and gently explained to me that I was forgiven for all of my sins, that God knows what is truly in my heart. I felt much better after that.  If God would forgive me for lying to a PRIEST, he would certainly forgive me for being mean to my brothers.

Unfortunately I no longer have trouble coming up with my list of sins for confession! But I feel humbled that God loves me unconditionally. All I need to do is acknowledge to God that I have failed, and God lovingly welcomes me home. Imagine how different our world would be if we could each forgive each other in such a way.  If we were to humbly accept God’s forgiveness and mercy and then extend that same forgiveness and love to others.

Today, how can I express unconditional love?

called to be different

I love today’s first reading because it contains one of those verses that is just so much more meaningful when it is read in Hebrew! I am always telling my students to learn Hebrew, and they mostly laugh at me and think I am a Bible geek, but really, there is so much meaning in this beautiful ancient language.

In today’s first reading, God tells Moses “Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:  Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”  Poor Moses, always charged with delivering these tall orders to the Israelites.  No wonder he had such a temper.

When I think of a “holy” person, I think of someone who prays a lot, someone who is close to God. A person who obeys the Commandments, maybe, a person who is kind and loves everyone they meet. To be honest, holiness, to me, seems at times to be an unattainable goal. Holy people certainly aren’t impatient, type-A personalities who worry all the time, right?

But here, the Hebrew saves me from my own preconceived notions of holiness.

The Hebrew word for holy, qadosh, does not mean righteous, pious, perfect, or anything of the sort. It means “set apart for a distinct purpose.”   When I think of that definition of holy, I see something attainable. I believe that God calls each one of us to be qadosh, that is, set apart for a distinct purpose—to know, to love, and to serve God.   I certainly don’t always know what my distinct purpose is.  But, when I think of holiness in its true form, I realize suddenly that being “holy” is attainable. I can be holy even in my failures, even in my brokenness. I am holy each day as I strive to be patient, to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher—even when I fail.

So when you feel like you aren’t “holy” enough, think again. God has created each of us to be qadosh—set apart, different, for a specific purpose.  And that is a beautiful thing.

Bob Rice

Catholic speaker, musician, author, teacher

domestic diva, M.D.

my mother raised the perfect housewife...then I went to med school

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