Time to “Get Clean!”
By Father Joseph
Well, here we are again, preparing to enter that time of the year when getting “clean” takes over our life. (As this goes to print, Lent has already just started.) And boy do we need that! Especially after our over-rich holiday diet, and many of our less-than-pure thoughts
regarding the political and social predicament throughout our world; riots, murder, upheavals, etc. The opportunity began on February 23rd: “CLEAN MONDAY,” sometimes also called “Pure Monday.”
Our Faith calls us to begin a response to God’s call, His grace, in which
we can reach a greater sense of spiritual and physical purification: hence
“Clean,” or “Pure” stands at the very beginning of our Lenten voyage to
Holy Week, and to the salvation realized by Our Lord Jesus Christ during
that time. But here’s the question: if this is only one day, Clean Monday,
how are we to continue Great Lent’s work? What do we have to do to maximize
our Forty Day Journey up to Holy Week?
The truth is that our Church provides the guidelines – or the “map” for our journey. It contains three markers, three disciplines. Although these three are basic to Christian living all year long, during Great Lent – the “Great Fast” – we intensify our involvement with them; this is the best way to reach Holy Week and our celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. In the early Church those who were preparing to enter the Christian Faith – to be baptized at Pascha time were taught to pray, especially reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. They were also taught to fast; in those days it meant no food at all for a number of days. And finally to practice charity, usually providing service and goods to the poor. They did all three in order to be baptized at the Resurrection Vigil, which, today is celebrated on Great Saturday (the day before Pascha). Look at those three again: to pray, to fast, to do charity. Most of us have been taught this before. Most of us know what is required of us. At the same time we may want to “vary the mix” a bit, both for our families and our own personal life, i.e. still keeping our three critical components.
This year we at St. Anthony’s were pleased to be one of the rare Churches to present the newest findings of the SHROUD OF TURIN on March 15th. This was one special presentation; there will be others. This can truly vary the mix. But the point here is that, in the “mix,” we will be invited to enter at an even deeper level to increase your prayer life, to attend special Lenten services on Wednesdays, Fridays, some Saturdays – and all the Eucharistic Liturgies on Sundays. Perhaps reading a new book could add to the mix. Or bringing your children to the mystery of Confession.
How about fasting from “texting!” or playing helping someone you don’t have to help? How about praying for peace in your daily prayers? How about listening more carefully to the Lenten Gospels? Just listen! Listen to others. Listen for God to speak through the happenings of our lives!
This is the season! It is that rare time each year when we can move toward “getting clean,” toward letting the Holy Spirit “purify” us by opening our own hearts and minds to a more intense practice of these three Christian virtues: to pray, to fast, to do charity. The “Springtime of our Souls” is upon us!
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