Ground Routines in God’s Love — By Fr. Rich, O.P.

FrRichWebOver the past few weeks I’ve found myself, in conversation with friends, parishioners, and colleagues, voicing a consistent thought: “We spend a good portion of our lives on auto-pilot.” I know that I do. I have a morning routine and a nighttime routine. I have a routine as I get to the parish, as I prepare to celebrate the liturgy. Routine make our lives manageable in some ways. In some ways they can save our lives. Think about it.

And by now, I would suggest that our Lenten participation has become routine, a time-limited routine, yes, but a routine nonetheless. If the practice centered on denial, then we likely adjusted to the absence of whatever activity or food we’ve temporarily eliminated. It’s probably a dull ache that fills a space. If the practice was centered on an additional activity, attending Mass, or time set aside for reading Scripture, then, if we have been faithful, these activities have made space in our routines.

In both cases, it is possible that your activities might well continue after we celebrate the Resurrection. It is possible that you may have changed your routine in positive, thoughtful, prayerful ways. Good news, if that is so. Anytime that we can point to more engagement of Scripture or the Sacraments, we experience a corresponding deepening of our faith.

On the other hand, if we are counting the days until we can revive what we have done without, looking forward to renewing our relationship with Starbucks or chocolate, how successful has our Lent been?

We are in control of how this season plays out, and there are opportunities available to us for support. Potentially one of the best ones is happening this week: the parish mission. It is an opportunity to come together as a community and share a liturgical moment of prayer, music, preaching, and learning.

Fr. Jim Marchionda’s theme is grounded in the certainty of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness — one that is essential to our understanding of the discipleship to which we are called. Preaching through Scripture, song, story and humor, Fr. Jim will lead us to a fuller appreciation of who we ourselves are, as instruments of the absolute certainty of God’s love. Is that not what we are seeking to enter more completely into with our Lenten practices?

Committing three evenings to an experience that could serve to give us space to be contemplative, focused on God, and the things of God is a small investment. Because the payoff is a deeper, more engaged, gentler relationship with God, with our faith, with our community.

We are in control of how this season plays out; we get to choose how we nurture our faith, our relationship with our community, and our God. Lent is a penitential season; the themes of fasting, almsgiving, and prayer ground it. We can choose how those themes play out, whether they become “part of the landscape” or remain activities and practices that we are consciously committed to engaging.

Next week is Palm Sunday; two weeks to the Resurrection, two weeks to exercise our willingness to actively engage our relationship with our God, Father, Son, and Spirit. The mission this week is an opportunity to garner some extra energy and support to finish strongly what we have begun: prayer, fasting, giving, reading Scripture, participating more frequently in the sacrament of Penance or the Eucharist. Join us! Finish this season prepared to enter into the myriad “Allelulias” to come!