Thursday, February 10, 2005

Lenten reflections?

I've been thinking about Lent lately (duh) and have to admit that I am so not in the mood to try to be holy, to try to be a better Christian. It's like I become incredibly lazy when it comes to my faith. I want to be a better Christian, I want to want to pray. I want to know all sorts of things about my faith. I want to be an excellent Catholic role model for Jude. I want all these things, but I just don't want to have to work at it.

I found this poem years ago and came across it again last night.
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—

the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-- who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I remember when I was attending LSUE I was a regular at the Catholic Student Center. We had prayer chapel there that housed the Tabernacle. We were all welcome to go there and pray anytime we felt the need. For some reason the Ministry Director (I know that wasn't her real title, but I just can't remember it right now) there decided we had to sign in when we went in to pray. As a board member, I was required to go in and pray a certain number of hours a week.

It drove me crazy, because to me prayer wasn't something that should be forced upon someone. Where you do it, how often you do it, and what length of time you do it is personal. I liked to go out and pray in the field behind the Catholic Center and be alone and reflect. Once I was required to pray in the Chapel, all I would do was go in and think about how I hated being required to prove to everyone there that I was prayerful.

During this season, I often feel like that again. People always ask what I've given up or what sort of new thing I'm doing this year. Am I praying a daily rosary? Did I quit eating candy? Am I attending daily Mass? Why is it their business? It's not and I shouldn't have to explain to them that it's not their business.

Matthew 6:1
"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven."

I could continue that passage, but I think you are all familiar with it.


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