Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Going Nowhere?...Fast

Now that we're solidly into the Lenten season, this post is finally getting out.  (Actually, I intended to jot down a few thoughts for last weekend, but haven't had the chance to sit down to it until now). As I was digging through my "archives," I came across a post from Lent two years ago, Fasting: Dispelling the Satisfaction Delusion. Now, two years later, I'm still a whimpy faster, but like all of the faith journey, improvement is made with baby steps.

Lent gives us the perfect time to step back and reconnect with Christ's perfect example of enduring a fast and temptation before even making one thought of entering into his public life of the Gospel.  It's such a perfect time that I've swung 180 degrees from a few years ago when the thought of mandating a fast, frankly, was a very big turnoff for me.  Now, it's harder to believe that the Church doesn't require us to fast on more than two days during Lent, let alone the entire liturgical year.  This seems especially true in times like these, when the one-two punch of prayer and fasting are needed to combat the particular crises facing the Church and the world.

But what does it accomplish?

In short, as I wrote about in the previous post, fasting forces us out of the illusion that we can often be tempted to accept, that life is good as long as our temporal needs are satisfied.  It seems to me that there's no coincidence that Lent takes place in the late winter and early spring, at the time when farmers are preparing their fields for the spring and summer crops.  In a similar manner, we are called to "till" the soil of our souls, to allow the Spirit to renew and strengthen the presence of God dwelling and active within us by clearing out all of the "clutter" that life tends to collect inside our minds and hearts.  We have a sublime opportunity to follow the soul's desire for rest and peace in our Exemplar and subjugate to it the body, whose natural desire is just the opposite: for motion and busyness.  As Father Andre Louf noted in his reflection quoted in the February 24th Magnificat,

Want and satisfaction, hunger and satiety, each with its characteristic aspect of pain and pleasure, are constantly alternating.
The more the adult person develops towards the ground of his existence, the deeper the need becomes and the less he is in fact satisfied by the material sustenance served up to him.  The day comes when a hunger and thirst for the living God are born within him and, over and above all earthly existence, are engraved into his body.

So, through fasting, we may begin to re-integrate the desires of the body with the desires of the soul, which all ultimately return to our desire for God.  We align our bodily hunger with our spiritual hunger, and in doing so more perfectly turn our whole self into the grace and peace of the living God.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Civil Disobedience

As I sat down to write this post, I was originally going to write a brief challenge to read an incredible book that L and I have been reading, Love and War by John and Staci Eldgredge.  But that will have to wait for a bit, perhaps next week.

For now, a much more urgent issue is at hand, that I have been thinking about earnestly despite having time to blog about it:  the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, as part of "Obamacare" that essentially guts the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.   You've no doubt seen the mandate and heard the back-and-forth (if one can even call it that), as it's been much-discussed on two of my favorite Catholic/pro-life news sources, and

I find myself thinking more and more over the last several weeks, "Is this our time?" Is this the chance for our generation of Catholics, along with our Protestant brothers and sisters who share our belief in the sanctity of human life, to demonstrate the faith that we profess by toeing the line, saying, "To hither thou shall come and no further" and be willing to face the temporal consequences of resisting, through civil disobedience if necessary, the intrusion of the Federal Government into our faith lives?  Perhaps it is the defining fight of our age, one that's been brewing in the decades since Pope Paul VI issued his dire warning about the devastating effects that contraception and a contraceptive mindset would have on a society, and more importantly the salvation of souls.  If not, we are still in for one heckuva fight.  As Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty, courageously stated as he toed the line this past week, "We want the law changed, or else we’re going to write our letters from the Nashville jail, just like Dr. King wrote his from the Birmingham jail."

If you have not yet, I encourage you to visit the "Conscience Protection" page that has been set up by the USCCB Council on Religious Liberty, which includes this quick video by cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan.  The site also includes dozens of links to get up to speed on what's going on with the fight, including Friday's attempt to "shell game" opponents into believing the insurance companies, not their customers, hold the moral responsibility for the anti-life services that are to be provided under the mandate.

It is time to pray, fast, and take courageous action in this battle, that we may celebrate eternity in praise of He Who has already won the war.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's Been A While...

...since my last post just over three months ago.  It just so happens, for those of you who haven't been following L's Blog, that we were blessed once again with a new addition just a few weeks after that.  Life was a beautiful chaos through the holidays, and now, being back, we are finally getting into something of a routine...maybe.  Anyhow, it was an email and phone call from a friend last week that prompted me to get back after it after having to retreat for a while to focus on (1) my vocation of fathering; (2) reinvigorating my prayer life through the Advent and Christmas seasons; and (3) deciding and charting a plan for our family to say farewell to military life and carry out our dream of moving back closer to L's family in God's country (aka Texas).   Proper attention has been given where attention was due, and now we are eagerly awaiting finalization and the day that we can officially welcome Gianna into the Church (hopefully on the same weekend).

So...that's all for now. More in the coming days and weeks, but for right now I just wanted to let you all know that we are indeed alive and doing our best to savor every moment and live it to the full.