Dear Sisters and Brothers –
This first Sunday of Lent, Jesus heads into the desert. Luke’s gospel seems to indicate that it was for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. While I believe that happened, I don’t think that was the reason Jesus went. Rather, he went for the same reason you and I would attend a retreat–to get away from the ordinary and most-often important demands on our time and attention and spend some special time with God.
Of course, that’s what Lent is about–getting some special time with God. While we can’t go away for forty days, we do mark these weeks as different. We begin with a smudge of ashes on our foreheads, and we fast from some particular food or activity that is in itself good, in order to intensify our expression of our need for God and God’s work in our lives.
The second way we mark Lent is prayer. I find that for many, the best is the enemy of the good, meaning that too frequently our generosity and good will lead us to grand plans for Lenten prayer, and because those plans are overly ambitious, prayer can fall completely by the wayside. I’d suggest that we set ourselves up for success and do something different that is also attainable, such as commit to the short meditations in the Lenten reflection booklet, Not By Bread Alone (available at the church doors), or spend 10 minutes on the Sacred Space website (put out by the Irish Jesuits) for their online daily prayer. The last discipline of Lent is almsgiving, and the Catholic Relief Services’s Lenten Rice Bowls are also at the church doors.
This Lent, as another avenue for our reflection, a number of parishioners are sharing with us essays, testimonies, really, of how God is moving in their lives, specifically through the lens of why they are Catholic. In reading Ryan and Kendall’s and Michael’s reflections (please click HERE), I was deeply moved by their attentiveness to God’s movements and invitations in their lives. And I felt, consequently, invited to reflect a bit differently about God’s movements and invitations in my own life.
That is our hope for this Lent, that this series of essays by parishioners each week of Lent is an invitation to you to some deeper reflection on how God is active in your life through your Catholic faith. I hope, too, that your reflections don’t remain private, that you talk about them over dinner with your family or on the phone or via social media with a friend. To that end, you will find below the prompt questions that we sent to our essayists. These were meant simply to prompt prayer and reflection; they’re meant that way now.
As we continue to enter into our Lenten season more deeply, let’s be conscious that we do so in companionship with one another.
Oremus pro invicem,
Reflection Questions: “Why I Am Catholic”
How did you become Catholic?
- If you are a “cradle Catholic”, what was your experience growing up?
- If you were baptized or received into the Church as an adult, why did you convert? What did you find attractive
about the Church?
What difference has being a Catholic made in your life?”
How has your Catholic faith been important to you? What, in how you live your life, demonstrates that?
What do you find attractive about Catholicism today?
What about Catholicism do you struggle with today?
What challenges do you face as a Catholic?
- From within yourself or from within the Church?
- From outside yourself or outside the Church?
Why do you choose to remain Catholic today?
- What are the teachings or beliefs that you hold onto because they are helpful?
- Who are the people you hold onto because they inspire you, or teach you, or are helpful in some way?
- What are the traditions or rituals or sacraments that nourish your faith?
- Or, what is it that holds onto you? (Versus you holding onto it.)
How does the Church help you to live the life you want to live or be the person you want to be? Does being Catholic help you to know Jesus more deeply? If so, how?
How do you experience God in or through all or any of the above?
- What is that God like, in your experience? How would you describe that God, either in anthropomorphic terms or
in non-anthropomorphic terms?