Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lent Makes Me Happy!

Sounds kinda strange, I know.  Lent is a penitential season, a time to break free from sinful behavior and attitudes.  A time to perfect virtues.  A time to sacrifice pleasure and grow in generosity and charity, all for the love of Christ. 

I have come to look at Lent in a different way over the years, and I believe my current viewpoint is both healthy and heading in the right direction - but far from perfect.  When I was a kid I gave up (because I was told to) eating snacks between meals.  I really, strongly, and profoundly disliked Lent as a kid.  And I could pound down my Easter basket full of candy in no less than 2 days to make up for lost time.  It wasn't until I was about 35 years old that I made a change in my Lenten sacrifice.  I have to add, with a round of laughter, my husband gave up pepper our first year married.  I thought that was the most pathetic sacrifice, but he really likes pepper, I had no idea.  I heard for 46 days how he was NEVER going to give up pepper again.  One night at dinner he nearly cried because he couldn't add pepper.  I laugh harder when I think of it now, because I am not very good at seasoning food, so that was real suffering for my gourmet minded husband.

Anyway...I have come to realize that Lent is a season to turn away from those things which prevent us from entering heaven.  Wow, I have my work cut out for me.  As I have grown older, I realize the enormity of my bad choices and how my soul has dangled above the fires of hell for many years, while I thought I was safe because I was a "good" person.  I am not better than one other person, and this is not false humility.  I struggle with pride, anger, gluttony and envy.  Which means I have to perfect the virtues of humility, meekness, temperance and love of neighbor.  Yikes!

I have been reading the Mystical City of God and really love all that I have learned.  Mary the Mother of God, appeared to Venerable Mary of Agreda in the 17th century  and revealed to her stories from the Creation of the world to the early Church after the Resurrection of Jesus.  During Lent I have skipped ahead, beginning with the death of St. Joseph and passing through the Baptism of Our Lord to the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles after the Ascension. 

I know it is two weeks into Lent and I should have started this last week (or sooner) but I actually forgot I had a blog amidst my daily living.  So I will "try" to share bits of what I have read every couple of days.  Starting now...

When Jesus was 30 years old, his foster father, St. Joseph died.  St. Joseph suffered for 8 years as a period of purification but his death was not caused by illness, rather St. Joseph had reached a perfect love for God and thus God prevented his human life from continuing any longer and lifted the veil into eternal life.  Before his earthly exit, Jesus blessed St. Joseph and told him to go to the "Bosom of Abraham" to prepare the just for the coming of the Messiah as the time drew near for his triumph over death.  Jesus and Mary remained by the side of St. Joseph comforting him in his final days.  This is why we pray to St. Joseph to obtain for us (or those we love) a happy and peaceful death in the arms of Jesus and Mary.

After Joseph died, Jesus knew it was time to move forward with the eternal plan.  The Blessed Trinity called Mary unto the almighty throne where it was revealed to her that the time had come for her Creator and Son to fulfill His promise.  She was asked to give consent to this great sacrifice like Abraham had been asked to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Mary, in the most meek and humble yet sorrowful words acknowledged her acceptance of God's will for the salvation of all mankind.  What hurts this gentle mother is not just the knowledge that her child, flesh of her flesh, would be tortured and killed but that He was also the just and loving creator without any fault or reason for such a death.

After Mary accepts God's will, Jesus leaves the holy home at Nazareth and sets out for the Jordan River, but before he reaches John the Baptist he fills his heart with a joy that changes his soul.  John knows his Savior is near, the time he has prepared for has come...

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