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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent -- and My Flesh

If you died with Christ to the elemental powers of the world, why do you submit to regulations as if you were still living in the world? “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" These are all things destined to perish with use; they accord with human precepts and teachings. While they have a semblance of wisdom in rigor of devotion and self-abasement (and) severity to the body, they are of no value against gratification of the flesh (Colossians 2:20-23).

It might surprise some people who know me, but I can be easily irritated by things that really shouldn’t make me irritable. It’s one of the many growing edges that Jesus and I have been working on for some time. And just when I think I’ve gotten ahead of my inclination for irritableness, something inane sets me off and reminds me I haven’t yet arrived at perfection.

And so, here we are at Lent, and I wondered what I will give up.

Chocolate was the first thing that popped into my mind, but then I remembered past Lents in which I gave it up, only to be made even more irritable than normal because I couldn’t have my daily fix of the sweet savor of Hershey’s kisses.

No, chocolate was not a good plan. In fact, the more I thought about what I could give up, the more I remembered other times in which I tried to devote myself to some self-denial that would reflect a “rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body,” yet didn't stem at all the ease with which I could fail to act Christ-like when things didn’t go my way.

St. Paul, knew what he was talking about: Such denials “are of no value against gratification of the flesh.”

Yet, it is Lent. And God asks us (at least, those who are Catholic) to give something up for the purpose of spiritual growth.

And then I realized what that would be for me.

I’ve been watching way too much television lately. And many times I have felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to turn off the tube and spend some time with Him.

And I too often (of late) found reason to delay doing so.

So, for the next forty days I will give up all television. Even Netflix videos. And I will spend the time instead reading the Scriptures or books of a spiritual nature. Instead of denying my flesh junk food and accomplishing nothing of spiritual value, I will indulge my spirit with spiritual food, and expect great nourishment of my relationship with Christ.

What a concept! Spend time with Jesus instead of the television.

Yes. I think this is going to be a valuable Lenten season.


newday said...

I only watch one show a week, so giving up chocolate works for me. I have however, decided to read more scripture and also more history on our founding fathers.

Richard Maffeo said...

Good for you about the scripture and history!

Anna said...

Oh my goodness, I was thinking the same thing for myself, though not to such an extreme -- just cutting down. I "gave-up" giving up something for Lent a long time ago and usually try to do something new (or something more often) that brings me spiritual growth or renewal. The last two years it was facilitating a bible study during lent.

np67gto said...

Be carful what you ask for Rich. I gave up TV last lent and we haven't had TV in our house for a year now. One of the greatest things I have ever done.

Richard Maffeo said...

Truth be told, we went for YEARS without a TV (nearly ten years) when our children were very young. I am not sure why we brought it back into the house. I'm not saying it will happen again, but I already feel like I am going 'cold turkey' -- and it's been only 24 hours! Shows me how much control it has over me.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts Rich. We had the Bishop celebrate Mass with us on Ash Wed. and he was speaking about lenten sacrifices and he said that if we give in then that thing controls us, but if we stay strong, then we control it. Simple words but they really hit me this year. Let's pray for each other.

Richard Maffeo said...

Sounds like what St. Paul wrote in Romans 6:12-23. Yes, Andie, let's pray for each other. And our famliies.

Anonymous said...

Last year I gave up speeding. I was one of those people always running a few minutes late. I don't go even one dot over the speed limit. I discovered you have to be disciplined enough to mind the time. Nearly killed me! It's so hard, I continued this and now offer it for the Poor Souls.
This year I am reading the Bible more for Lent. Much less painful.

(if I am running late and it will impact others, I will go faster, it's pure luxury to go 65 mph instead of 60!)