By Chris O’Neill – Office of Marriage and Family Life – Archdiocese of New Orleans
Here we are in the middle of Lent, getting closer all the time to Easter. We’re staying away from meat on Fridays and paying attention to whatever sacrifice or service we’ve chosen to take on. Surely by now most of us have tripped up somewhere along the way, or else are feeling especially proud of ourselves for not. And, when Easter comes, we will all break our fast and celebrate. I sure am looking forward to that day! But as I reflect, it occurs to me that I tend to take the season of Lent more seriously than I do the season of Easter.
I think it is because Lent makes intuitive sense for me. I don’t like to do the sacrificing, but I see how it makes a difference for me. I see how it would make me better and stronger if I could manage to be more faithful to it than I am. But what difference could 50 days of Easter celebration make? I confess I don’t ask myself that question very often or very seriously. I mean, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead for me, but I still have bills to pay and responsibilities to fulfill. I still have work to do. I see how the discipline of Lent makes me better able to fulfill those responsibilities, but to celebrate too much or for too long is a distraction from the “real work” of my everyday life.
I think that is the root problem for me. I don’t think it has completely sunk in yet what the “real work of everyday life” really is. At the Mass we pray with the celebrant, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks…” Those are powerful words, if I let them sink in. If I am not giving thanks to God – always and everywhere – I am not doing what it is my duty to do!
The spiritual life, and life with Christ is not ultimately about what sacrifices I make or acts of service I take on. As important as those things are, the real core of life in Christ is what He has done for me. And if I take the time to reflect, I see that life in Christ has changed everything for me. He has taught me how to live, he has challenged my selfishness and my insincerity and my hypocrisy. He has given me all of these beautiful tasks that fill my life with responsibility – my wife and children, my work and my community, which all call me in so many ways to contribute with the strength and resources that the Lord has provided. There is no part of my life which the Lord’s goodness has not touched. Truly He has overlooked my many faults and given His life to me. Every day, all day, always and everywhere. How right and just it is to give him thanks!