Marriage and Family Life
John Paul II referred to our families as "domestic churches", or places where our children first learn to love God and one another. Our office is here to support parishes and individuals in Northeast Kansas in their efforts to form engaged couples, enrich married couples, help those experiencing difficulties in their families.
On Lent and Love
Sometimes we can get caught up in the disciplines of Lent. How many meals can I have on Good Friday? What counts as “meatless”? Is shrimp okay to have on Fridays even though it’s kind of a treat? Can I really have what I gave up on Sundays?
I think it is a good to take a step back and remember that Lent is all about relationship. When we focus too much on technicalities, we miss the whole point. Imagine a young couple, newly in love. Do they ask questions such as: How many hours do we have to spend on the phone every week? How often do I have to complement him? Do I have to get her a Valentine’s gift if our anniversary is just three weeks before?
While it’s true that young, in-love couples may spend hours together at the expense of sleep, or make all kinds of sacrifices for one another, they do not count the cost. Being “in love” makes the work of love easy. Couples only begin to count the cost of their love when they no longer feel “in love”. The good news is that there are concrete skills and practices that couples can learn that will help them stay “in love”*. Likewise, there are things we can do this Lent to foster our “in love” relationship with God, and a lot of it is in the way we approach our Lenten observances.
Here are two examples:
Stations of the Cross. Do we approach these meditations on Jesus’ Passion and death feeling blame or guilt? While of course we are guilty of the sin that made the Passion necessary, I think we will get further meditating on Jesus’ great love for us. Don’t we all want to know that someone cares enough to sacrifice for us? It is important for us to understand the depth of what Jesus suffered, but in a way that leads us to a gratitude that wants to give all in return.
Fasting. Often when we fast, we focus on the very thing we are depriving ourselves of, congratulating ourselves if we are doing well, or beating ourselves up if we slip.
But I think it would be better to approach our fasting the way a new mother approaches her child. She will sacrifice sleep, comfort and even showering in order to provide for the needs of her child. While such things are not pleasant, she does them out of great love and with a focus on her infant, not herself. Likewise, we would do well to make sure that Jesus is the center of our fasting.
The saints came from every different background, region and vocation on earth. What they had in common was not just a “grit-your-teeth” kind of love, but a real spirit of
being in an intimate loving relationship with the person of Christ. Let’s do what we can to cultivate that love for Jesus this Lent, knowing that he is always willing to show us his love!
*Want to learn these tips for staying in love? Join us for a Living in Love retreat! Click the link above.