While driving into work today, I listened to three radio personalities discussing "Lentil Loopholes." Someone finally texted them and said, You are looking for the word "Lenten Loopholes." After realizing he had been discussing a soup (rather than a season) the radio personality made the correction although he occasionally went back to using the word lentil.
The discussion was done in a lighthearted manner. They were discussing loopholes in your Lenten resolutions because giving up something you like is just "too hard." If you give up fast food, what constitutes "fast food?" They determined it had to have a drive-up window to be considered fast food. So, you could go to a McDonald's located inside a big store because it had no drive-up window. And on and on it went.
The one radio personality who called it lentil loopholes mentioned he had grown up Catholic. Apparently, it had been a while since he practiced based upon the lack of the understanding exhibited during his conversation with the other two people. It would have been a great opportunity to encourage people to grow and improve, but the end result was a mockery of living a disciplined life. If it is too hard, look for a loophole.
My dear readers, life is difficult at times. I get that. We need strength; we need courage; we need all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We do not need to decrease our pursuit of discipline. Rather, we need to strive diligently to notch it up a bit. Put on the full armor of God by prayer and fasting.
As our country continues to slide toward moral depravity, we need people willing to be recognized as followers of Christ. The Catholic Church has long been an obstacle to those wanting to take the country (or even the world) into immoral and unethical directions. The pro-life movement is one such example. If the Catholic Church had not stood firm throughout all of these years, where do you think our country would be? Abortion would be even more rampant than what it is. Physician-assisted suicide would be an accepted practice across the country. Euthanasia would have sunk its roots deeper into the fabric of our "healthcare" systems.
People with agendas that are contrary to natural law understand that the Catholic Church has to be neutralized to enable them to pursue their objectives. Unfortunately, great progress has been made in that area. The sex abuse scandal has damaged the credibility of the Church to speak on morality, and this has done damage to our Church and our society beyond our full comprehension.
In addition to the side-effects of the sex abuse scandal, there have also been some leaders (and followers) in the Church who have openly embraced lifestyles completely inconsistent with the teachings of Holy Mother Church. These small incremental steps to overthrow centuries of teaching will have astounding consequences, some of which we are already beginning to see. If the Church is unable to be a moral voice in the crowd, we are headed in a downward spiral that will only accelerate as time goes on. Eventually, the growing divisions within the Church will lead to another defining moment. History will most likely repeat itself as another schism comes on to the scene.
Some in Church leadership fail to understand the ramifications of not teaching the fullness of the faith. Others understand it, but they choose to knowingly and willingly teach error to push an agenda more to their liking. The end result is confusion, chaos, and collapse. Has it all been by design as some have suggested? I'll leave that to your discretion.
Here are my thoughts about Lent:
1. Make a resolution and keep it. Don't look for loopholes. Grow in discipline.
2. Pray. Pray frequently and fervently. Don't just honor God with your lips. Pray from the heart.
3. Fast (if you are medically safe to do so). Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only two required days of fasting. That doesn't mean you can't do more. There is something about praying and fasting together that draws great grace.
4. Serve others in some capacity. Do it willingly. Do it joyfully.
5. Examine your conscience thoroughly. Root out sin in your life. Don't be complacent with your "favorite" sins. If you are living in habitual sin, try to remove it from your life. Replace it with the corresponding virtue.
Our eternal destiny is no small matter. Years ago we would hear ample preaching and teaching about the four last things--death, judgment, heaven, and hell. We rarely hear anything about these realities in our modern era of preaching. Let me be clear. Just because we do not hear about them does not make them any less important. Please take this seriously. Our relationship with God has to be our top priority. Lent reminds us of that. Please don't miss the chance to grow in holiness.
Be specific. What will you do to enhance your spiritual journey during this Lenten season? Get started now!!!!