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#Fast Friday in Lent …  mid-Lent, midlife…

#Fast Friday in Lent … mid-Lent, midlife…

Here we are, approaching mid-Lent! I was encouraging my bible study students this week that it is never too late to make a good Lent. Lots of folks have a fast start. They get all excited to maintain the practices of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer and then forget, or can’t maintain the habit, or peter out. Or they get too busy. Or too easily discouraged. Nobody said this would be easy.

But really, even great saints remind us that it is never too late to begin again.

Nunc coepi! — now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve — to love! — our God with a wholehearted loyalty.

-St Josemaria Escriva-

Hit the re-set button. Begin anew. Begin today. Take one small step.

A saint is not someone who never sins,

but one who sins less and less frequently

and gets up more and more quickly.

-St. Bernard of Clairvaux-

It’s not just mid-Lent, for me it’s mid-life. Yet the message is the same. It’s never too late to change and start over — not just in Lent, but in our longing to do good and love the Lord more.

Never give up hope. We can all become saints, even if we get a late start in life.

Grace leads the way.

What Jesus is by nature, we can become through grace.

The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace… in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God’s gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received…. to live “as becomes saints”…

…that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity…

…they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. (Lumen Gentium, par 40-41, from Vatican II)

Some of the mightiest saints converted and came alive in their middle years.

Great saints for midlife include St Peter, and St Paul. Both met Jesus in midlife — the former because his brother dragged him to meet Jesus, and the latter because Jesus met him is flash of light on the road to Damascus  Of course, St Augustine dilly dallied for quite some time before caving into the love of God, too. Augustine’s conversion deeply affected his mother, St Helena. Then there’s St Teresa of Avila whose deepest conversion — in the “on going conversion” sense — began in her forties, long after first giving her life to Christ as a religious sister. There are so many more. Look into St Margaret of Cortona, St Olga of Kiev, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (AKA Edith Stein), and the later in life convert-to-Catholicism Elizabeth Ann Seton.

(H/T to my author-friend Melanie Rigney, the saint researcher, for our emails about saints with later-in-life conversions.)

There’s an old expression, “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.” But my Dad, whom I call a dog whisperer, teaches old rescued dogs things all the time. I’m not calling anyone here an old dog, but the same adage applies. The Heart Whisperer, the Lover of Our Soul, Jesus Christ can rekindle the flame in us, no matter what our age! But especially those of us a little older in years. We might think change is beyond us. Yet it is never beyond grace and mercy.

Who could ever forget Abraham and Moses? They got the call to shift gears and follow God — complete with cross-country moves to new places — deep into their graying years.

It’s only mid-Lent. That means for some of us, we’re just gettin’ started.

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Good encouragement here:

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For Comic Relief: Speaking of St Peter and other saints, Stephen Colbert is fan of Simon Peter…

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Why #Fast Friday in Lent?

#Fast Friday on Confession

 

 

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My Column at Patheos has me working my way through Lumen Fidei (Francis’ first encyclical)

My Column at Patheos has me working my way through Lumen Fidei (Francis’ first encyclical)

As the Year of Faith continues, I thought it wise to study and reflect on Francis’ first encyclical specially geared to teach on faith. This encyclical letter was much anticipated and begun by Benedict XVI, and was subsequently completed and released under Francis. It was released at the end of June, just in time for my summer vacation. But I’m back! And happy to share a few quotes from it —  the “greatest hits” imho — that I find there.

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Today, at my column at Patheos, I begin a series reflecting on each of the parts of this wise and easy-to-digest catechesis on faith. As you might expect, the document is filled with scripture. I give you a snippet below of a particular verse that moved me…

One verse from Scripture cited in Lumen Fidei struck me with unusual power, to see it with new eyes.

On the eve of his passion, Jesus assured Peter: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail (Lk 22: 32).”

What a momentous statement.

So often Christians think about the action of our prayers being made to God. Yet in this instance, the Lord and the Light of the World, offers an intentional and personal prayer for an arrogant and blundering fisherman in Peter. The gospels have numerous instances of Jesus at prayer. But in this short verse we get a vision of God who prays for us! Jesus has each of us in mind before we utter a word or thought of the heart.

In this clear intercession – I have prayed for you – Jesus pins hope on Peter’s faith, but it is not fainthearted. Jesus backs it with his power and light. Jesus entrusts this faith, by turn, on the followers to come after Peter, as they too will be transformed by the light of faith.

I now imagine this word of God applying to me. I see Jesus praying for my faith, the virtue infused at my baptism. To assist me in not failing, Jesus has given me brothers and sisters in the church, along with the graces of the sacraments, to insure it. This, indeed, is the faith born of encounter with Jesus: it brightens one’s path, and opens “vast horizons” that lead “beyond our isolated selves towards the breadth of communion.” It is a faith that “enriches life in all its dimensions (LF, par 6.)”

Read the whole article at my column, “A Word in Season”, on Patheos.

To subscribe to my column at Patheos via RSS or to get the whole series delivered to your email inbox, go here.

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Photos: Top cover photo: me and a cardboard cut-out of Francis at Catholic Marketing Network, near the Ignatius Press booth.

Mid text: Screen shot from news.va

This makes me think… and wonder what St Peter was thinking when he wrote this…

Above all

hold unfailing

your love for one another,

since love covers a multitude of sins.

-1 Peter 4:8-