As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, March 14, 2014

Rend Our Hearts

At our school of community this evening, some friends and I read Pope Francis' Ash Wednesday homily.  In a school of community (a gathering affiliated with Communion and Liberation), the intent is to do a reading early in the week, and use it as prayer as you go about your week, mindful of the opportunites to meet Christ in your circumstance (and hopefully the reading offers some enlightenment, a new way of looking at things).

He begins with the scripture, “Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13).  These words were powerful for me as I continued my lenten fasts this week.  Lent is traditionally a time of sacrifice, of giving up.  And yet, sometimes we become so focussed on the sacrifice that we miss the joy that is to be had in each day.  This year I am doing a bread fast, which means that other than supper time (for which I eat a normal meal) I am only eating bread or crackers. I allow myself simple things to spread on the bread for flavor and nutrition, but try not to make it anything too indulgent.  I'm also drinking fruit juices and milk to keep my calories and nutrients up.   In the evenings I always find myself hungry, and have been making toast to eat.  One night in particular I caught myself wanting to put butter on my toast, but second-guessing it thinking it too indulgent (margarine doesn't taste nearly as good - and since it's Lent, maybe I should choose it instead). I realized pretty quickly how silly that was, that Lent is not about making yourself as miserable as possible, but instead choosing a sacrifice that will help you enter into prayer and attentiveness, and chose the butter.  Oh, how I enjoyed it!  And it hit me - I was excited about butter!  Something so simple, so completely everyday that I always take for granted, now is a treat.  Fasting makes you more able to appreciate the gifts you have.  Could it be that Lent is not just about giving something up, but also about learning to appreciate the luxury in life's simplicities?

“Rend your hearts and not your garments” (Joel 2:13) When we read this tonight, it made me think of rendering when you're cooking.  You render fat from an animal to make something better, usually a delicacy of some sort.  Sauces are rendered for richness and flavour.  You don't discard and throw it away, you turn it into something extroardinary and useful.  Could it be that during Lent, the same thing happens in our hearts?  That through trying to rid ourselves of sin and selfishness, the Lord takes the goodness in our hearts, renders it, and turns it into something exquisite?  Rendering takes time and patience, and is rarely done for waste.  Great care is involved, its soul purpose to transform something that is okay into something incredible.

Rend our Hearts this Lent, oh Lord.  May our sacrifices unite us always with Your will.

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