Forty Days and Forty Thoughts, Part 2 of 2

In my Sunday School class there’s a little girl who doesn’t say much…ever. When I ran into her at the grocery store after Ash Wednesday, I asked what she was giving up for Lent. She whispered, “All sweets and all desserts.” That’s a tough commitment in the modern world—and she’s only eight years old! Then in class this last Sunday, my daughter handed out freshly baked, homemade cookies to the students. This girl shook her head to refuse, but those around her insisted. “They’re so good!” She left that cookie sitting on the napkin, sending out a sweet aroma, causing some of those around her to beg for it. At the end of the class period she gave it to her mother with a smile. Now that’s inspiring!

Here’s the second half of our Thoughts for 40 Days:

21. Fasting during Lent is quite different from writing a New Year’s resolution. We have only 40 days to get it “right.” It seems like both a LONG time and a SHORT time to put on “the new man.”

22. Padre Pio had the stigmata on his hands. That must have been a trial. Everyone sees your hands. Everyone gawked at his. But trials and blessings are intimately connected.

23. Does it seem to you that everything that could go wrong, does go wrong during these 40 days? It’s like an intense year all crammed in to a short time period.

24. Why 40? It seems to be the number necessary for testing, learning and purification before big changes occur. The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years. Moses was on the mountain for forty days. It rained for forty days and night when Noah was in his boat. Elijah went without food for 40 days, and so did Jesus.  All of these were times of preparation and change. Are you ready for change?

25. We will have a new pope by Easter! We pray that the Holy Spirit is, at this very moment, descending on the Conclave and working through the cardinals.

26. We pray for a strengthening of families in this time when the nature of “family” is being pushed and pulled.   Lord, protect and guide our nation that it will defend and support our families.

27. These last few weeks are a time of “pilgrimage.” We are journeying toward our true Home.  It’s time to run the good race and put extra effort into this discipline.

28. Stations of the Cross are one of the most powerful devotions available to us. We need to get our young people to participate so that this memorial doesn’t disappear. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus, began in Jerusalem in 313 after Constantine assumed power. Before that, there had been 250 years in which Christians were actively persecuted.

29. Les Miserables is a good movie for the Lenten season. It is a story of misery and hope; sin and grace.

30. The rosary can be said as a “walking meditation.” Try it. It offers balm for both the body and the soul.

31. “Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives….So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy.” Words of wisdom from St. Peter Chrysologus, a doctor of the Church who lived from 400-450.

32. Here’s another quote from this 5th Century saint about the Real Presence; “He is the bread sown in the Virgin, leavened in the Flesh, molded in His Passion, baked in the furnace of the sepulchre, placed in the churches, and set upon the altars, which daily supplies heavenly food to the faithful.”

33. Nowadays, love is defined by “how he/she makes me feel.” The goal of life is said to be “self-fulfillment.” But the truth is: we are filled up, only when we empty ourselves and give to the other without expecting anything in return. That’s one of those paradoxes we learn from Jesus.

34. St. Paul says we are to “boast in Christ.” God is the source of all goodness, all truth, all love, all success. It’s important to give the credit to Him.

35. There are great rewards that come to those who let go of worldly desires. It’s hard to see that truth when we are entrenched in the world. That is why Lent has so much to offer.

36. We peel back one attachment at a time. “I’m letting go of meat on Fridays. Now I’m letting go of eating between meals. Now I’m letting go of other attachments.” The peelings are gone. The essence is revealed: we belong to Christ.

37. “We are in a race and run to win,” says St. Paul. This competition is against the devil. Can we escape from his snares? Self-discipline is required, which all runners know is essential.

38. We hope and trust in our Lord. His generous mercy is boundless.

39. Jesus, my Lord and my God, have mercy on me a sinner.

40. By the paradox of surrender and death, Jesus conquered. We surrender to Him in order to receive new life. May this Easter be a special blessing!