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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keeping Love in Lent: Finding Balance


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"I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by
Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”


By Janine from Mililani, Hawaii, United States (v-day flowers  Uploaded by Fæ)
 [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the peculiarities of Easter’s status as a movable feast is that a couple of feast days which double as secular holidays can fall within significant parts of its 40 days.  One of these is St. Valentine’s Day, which may or may not fall within the Lenten season on any given year. This year was particularly unique as the fasting of Ash Wednesday crashed full bore into the sappy chocolate sweetness of St. Valentine’s Day.  What’s a girl to do when austerity meets saccharine sweet and children are accustomed to chocolate hearts from mom? It’s a dilemma of contrasts....Or, is it?

As Jesus walked the steps that we trace in the stations of the cross, he suffered out of love for us. As lashings were received and thorns pressed flesh and a mother’s tears brought divine sorrow, love was the reason—love for us, unworthy ones. It was all about keeping us near, giving us hope, and extending the opportunity for grace. His love-saturated focus was upon us, in all of our smallness and insignificance.



And so, each year, as Lent rolls around and we walk these steps with him-- in the desert, toward the cross-- our focus is upon --us.  Maybe yours isn’t, but mine tends to be. My Lenten thoughts are often consumed with my sacrifices, my disciplines, my prayer life, my study. It's rather incongruous, isn't it?

Maybe I’d best take a lesson from my Savior. Perhaps the way to keep love in Lent is to remember that the fasting is for the giving-- the fasting is for the filling of the alms jar so that others might have bread. The repentance is so that one might draw closer to the Source of Holiness.  The study is so that one might be better enriched to nourish the faith of others. Perhaps I'd best pray so that I might be better equipped to serve.    Perhaps I might best remember that he died so that I might live to serve him through meeting  the needs of others. Perhaps that is where the love is, in Lent. 


Maybe Lent isn't about my denial; it's about others' abundance. Maybe Lent isn't about me at all. Maybe it's about Christ Jesus and those he is sending me out to serve.  Maybe Lent is about...well, love.

How do you balance the self-examination and spiritual renewal of Lent with a focus upon service and charity?

May you be blessed to "keep the love in Lent" this 2013 Lenten season.
Pax Christi dear ones,
~Michelle


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-p44m2pLDfJ0/USJBnfc5qPI/AAAAAAAAGqo/oSFcCKX_Ahg/s200/Keep_Love_in_Lent_2.jpg

Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.
Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!




17 comments:

  1. Stopping by as part of the Keep Love in Lent link-up. Great to read your post! I especially liked these sentences: "Maybe Lent isn't about my denial; it's about others' abundance. Maybe Lent isn't about me at all. Maybe it's about Christ Jesus and those he is sending me out to serve." I think you hit the nail on the head--Lent is about Jesus and those we serve in His name. I never thought about it quite that way. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you a Blessed Lent!

    Cheryl
    http://www.diary-of-a-sower.blogspot.com

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  2. I agree, Michelle, it is about love. We examine ourselves and repent our past selfishness in order to love others through service. In a world so focused on secular concerns, Lent reminds us of our true purpose: to love others as Christ loves us. Lovely post.

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  3. Beautiful post, Michelle! Amen. I think almsgiving is my favorite pillar of Lent because in giving, we receive. I'm always thinking that I'm helping someone else but I often get more out of it. It's Christ's way of reminding us that in making the ultimate sacrifice, we are redeemed. Thank you for this lovely reflection and God bless your loving Lent!

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  4. "Fasting is for giving," what a great way to think about. Fasting from the unhealthy allows me demonstrated healthy to my children. Fasting from buying things we don't need allows us to give more!

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  5. This is one of my favorite posts yet in the link-up.

    And, I agree- the fasting and mortification and sacrifice is not about us. It's all for the love of others. Perfect.

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  6. As much time as I spend focusing on how I'M doing at my Lenten resolutions, you bring up an excellent point about the REASONING behind why we do it in the first place. Thank you for this reminder! God bless you!

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  7. I love what you wrote about Lent — that the fasting is about the giving! :) Thank you SO much for reminding us about the reason behind it all! :) Thank you, too, for joining the link-up! God bless you and yours always! :)

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  8. Hi Michelle, I like your sentence "maybe Lent isn't about my denial; it's about others' abundance. Maybe Lent isn't about me at all. Maybe it's about Christ Jesus and those he is sending me out to serve. Maybe Lent is about...well, love."

    I think Lent is in part "about me" for if I do not allow Him to mold and sculpt me the way He intends to, then my Lenten Journey will bear no fruit. It will be dry and empty. So the "me" part is about saying "yes" to His call.

    But truly, it is all about love. For the Gates of Heaven to be opened to us, God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us. Incredibly selfless act!

    This Lent I do have a new focus on service and charity but also justice. My church has a newly formed Peace and Justice Ministry that is looking to help those in need in a new way. We still need to figure out how to do just that!

    May God bless you and your beautiful family this Lenten Season!

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  9. "Perhaps the way to keep love in Lent is to remember that the fasting is for the giving-- the fasting is for the filling of the alms jar so that others might have bread." Beautifully said, Michelle. Really. Friends of mine are engaging in a 30-hour fast sponsored by World Vision to raise funds for fighting hunger. Their motto is "Go hungry so others won't." This phrase has run through my mind many times in the last two weeks. If we're truly Christ-like, we do as He did: we put others first with love. Thanks for the inspiration you've shared!

    Regina
    http://www.alivinggarden.com

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  10. Yes! "Perhaps the way to keep love in Lent is to remember that the fasting is for the giving" So true, In in my case, I think the fasting is for giving in a less physical way this year. I have been called to be more charitable simply in my thoughts and relationships. The words and actions I offer to my family and those around me. Yes, physical charity and service to strangers IS important and must be attended to, but, truly, for me this year, I think the place of growth lays int being charitable to the circle of people I interact with most often. I know that might seem odd, but it is where reflection has brought me. And, for me, I am almost ashamed to admit, being truly charitable in this way is MUCH more challenging than donating time and services elsewhere. Ah, growth!

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  11. "The fasting is for the giving." Whoa. I will be prayerfully pondering this today. Thank you and God bless!

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  12. This is such a wonderful post! Thank you for the beautiful reminder that Lent is really about us serving through the sacrifice as Chirst did.

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  13. I should have read your blog before today, Michelle. I fasted for 22 hours and by the end of it, I was no good to anyone, not even myself. (Here I am talking about fasting- the first sin).My husband tried to get me to break the fast earlier, but I was stubborn. By dinner time, he was serving me Excedrin and cheese pizza, and tucking me in bed under the electric blanket. I'm not going to do that again, at least not to that extent. God Bless You and yours

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  14. We moved St. Valentine's Day to the Monday before at our house, followed directly by Fat Tuesday, so we were all pretty berserk for a couple of days, and ready for Lent to start! Good Lent to you and yours!

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  15. "It was all about keeping us near, giving us hope, and extending the opportunity for grace. His love-saturated focus was upon us, in all of our smallness and insignificance." My favorite line from your beautiful reflection. It is amazing, sometimes, to ponder how small and insignificant we are, and yet he would die for just one of us. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of us! Have a blessed Lent!
    ~ Susan solesearchingmamma.com

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  16. Nice, thoughtful post! "fasting is for the giving-- the fasting is for the filling of the alms jar so that others might have bread. The repentance is so that one might draw closer to the Source of Holiness." Well said!

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  17. "Fasting is for giving" I never thought of it like that before. Thanks for sharing.

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Pax Christi!
~Michelle