This week, SheepTrick welcomes to the fields, Rev. Rene Schatteman, a priest of Opus Dei, who offers some practical suggestions for a Lenten strategy in ordinary life. Don’t choose them all, but hopefully you can find a number of sacrifices that will help you carry the Cross with Jesus this Lent…
Our Lord has said: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Lk 9:23). And St. Paul has written: “With Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”(Gal 2: 19-20)
In his Message for Lent 2015, Pope Francis has said: “Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us….” And after giving a number of suggestions on how to combat what he terms “a globalization of indifference” he concludes: “During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours(Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference. It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you.”
Our mother the Church gives us great freedom in selecting the ways in which we will deny ourselves, pray and show charity towards others. Here are some possible sacrifices; each person could freely choose to follow some of these points or formulate other resolutions in keeping with his/her age and circumstances.
Sacrifices in food: Fast; eat less; eat less of what I like most; eat more of what I like least; skip some condiment such as salt, sugar, ketchup, cream. Not eat in between meals. Hold off a few minutes before eating or drinking what is in front of me. Not take ice in drinks.
Sacrifices in rest: Go to bed on time; get up on time; skip naps.
Sacrifices in posture: Sit up straight; do not cross my legs; do not use the backrest.
Sacrifices in personal grooming: Take a cold shower; take a shorter shower; floss; keep use of the mirror to a minimum; offer use of the bathroom to others before taking my turn; clean up afterwards.
Sacrifices in entertainment: Limit TV watching or skip it for the duration of Lent; listen less to music; read more and better works; less use of video games or skip entirely. Avoid using the Internet without a clear, useful purpose; eliminate Internet surfing; cut back on texting, the use of social media and the need to respond to others instantly; refrain from constantly checking emails and news on line. Read only certain parts of the newspaper. Resolve not to look at billboards. Avoid shopping without a definite purpose. Try not to spend money.
Sacrifices in social settings and conversations: Think ahead and bring up good topics for conversations so as to avoid gossip and backbiting. Give others a chance to speak and listen to them attentively. Be courteous to other drivers. Don’t complain. Don’t blame others.
Consult your spouse; offer to do him/her one favor each day. Try to see the good in your spouse and compliment her/him more often; do the same for your children and for brothers and sisters. Use a cheerful tone of voice. Drop what you are doing to greet others in a friendly fashion. Have a great and blessed Lent!
Fr. Rene can be reached by email at email@example.com