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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Heavy Lifting Two

Tomorrow's the big day! Lent begins! I always have a lot to say about Lent.

The first thing to keep in mind is that, as of tomorrow, we are no longer in Ordinary Time. Which brings me to this comment from a reader.

Blogger Diane said...

Sister Mary Martha - LOL! do you live a charmed life? not enough suffering, sorrow, or humiliation of your own that you would consider putting peas in your shoes or wearing an embarrassing hat? I don't know anyone in that position, however I do know people who look for opportunities to turn the ordinary into an offering without drawing attention to themselves. :) Same goes for eating the pbj when everyone else is eating your favorite meal. It's a little bit in the spotlight, don'tcha think? However, 'Don't complain' works no matter what sacrifice you choose. LOL, I hope those peas don't end up in the soup after you've walked on them all day.

And, no disrespect intended but I disagree about losing weight or quitting smoking not being suitable sacrifice. I think if I need to lose weight or follow a special diet, I can offer the struggle/suffering of it to God, regardless of the time of year. For some people these things can be unbelievably challenging.

And I loved the Feast/Fast list from the previous post you referred to. I kept it pinned to my bulletin board for frequent reference when I worked with engineers and detailers. These were no small suggestions in that particular environment. I think it's a really good reminder that the end result of all of this is that it's supposed to help us to let go of attachments so we can love God more completely, which usually translates into our relationship with others in some way.

And no disrespect to you, either, when I point out that I think you've missed the point of Lent altogether and the point of the "Reverse Lent" post, which is to say that that is a list, for the most part, of things we should always be doing. Every day. Ordinary Time.

And yes, we all suffer life's slings and arrows. My suggestion is always to suck it up and offer it up to the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

Lent is a special time. A time out of the ordinary. A time when we more closely align ourselves with the suffering of Jesus. Was Jesus on a weight loss program so His pants would fit better? Was he trying to stop smoking there on the cross? I don't think so.

Why do we even 'give something up' for Lent? We do it so we notice that something is missing. You have to give up something that's going to make a dent, something that's going to get through to you. "Letting go of attachments" is an everyday dusting. Entering the world of Jesus Suffering is heavy lifting. We sweep the floor every day. We move all the furniture and clean it and what's underneath it during Lent.

The list I made the other day was for a pregnant woman who couldn't just do some fasting and call it a day. We had to be a little more creative. What can you do to really get through to yourself that Jesus suffered? Make your favorite dinner and watch everyone else eat it and not act like you're suffering? That would work. Wear an embarrassing hat? I think so. The Apostles were very mortified that their leader was publicly executed. I think being publicly executed would be even more of a strain on the ego for the person on the cross. A pebble in your shoe? Each step, a reminder of Christ on the Cross.


Monica said...

Sr. M.M.

Those are positively the most ghastly pictures of Jesus I've ever seen. If I thought it wouldn't adversely affect my relationship with Him I might post them and look at them every day for lent for maximum suffering. :)

mph said...

LOL! I totally agree wiwth you Monica. What on earth was whoever dreamt them up thinking about?

Karen said...

I agree with Monica about the Jesus art. They look like pictures you'd find up on The Crescat blog.

Anonymous said...

Another, very thoughtful, approach to Lent is available at http://livejesus.blogspot.com/ hosted by the good Sisters of the Visitation Monastery (no slouches in spiritual discipline, I'd say).

Anonymous said...

Yes, Monica, I agree!


Judy said...

Colleen Hammond had a Lenten list on her blog today. I like it better than the "fast from, feast from" list that you referred to previously, and would like your comments on it. Do you think these just fall into the category of "things we should be doing anyway"?

Lenten Promises

1. I will not do any unnecessary talking; instead, I will pray little aspirations throughout the day.

2. I will exercise my patience in all things.

3. I will not complain.

4. I will restrain any anger, and go out of my way to be kind to the person who caused my anger.

5. I will not be distracted with someone else’s business.

6. At times, I will refrain from saying some unnecessary thing I wish to say.

7. I will force myself to smile and be cheerful when I feel sad or irritated.

8. I will mortify my curiosity by not trying to know the latest news that does not concern me.

9. I will not complain of little discomforts and inconveniences. Rather, at times I will seek them out.

10. Whenever it is possible, I will do the will of others instead of my own.

11. I will be especially kind and friendly to the person that most annoys me.

12. I will say a little aspiration and lift my mind to God each time the clock strikes the hour.

13. I will say, “Thank You, God,” whenever something happens contrary to my will.

14. When possible, I will wait for a time before doing something I am most eager to do.

15. I will discontinue without delay any pleasurable occupations if duty, obedience, or charity calls me elsewhere.

16. When others do not agree with me in matters of slight importance, I will keep silent and not press my opinion.

17. Whenever I awake in the night, I will raise my heart to God.

18. I will not excuse myself when blamed.

Monica said...

or, as my sister said, "why worry about internet porn when pictures like this are out there?"

Anonymous said...

I'm an Anglican. I am having difficulty finding a parish to visit for the imposition of ashes tomorrow as I'll be traveling for work. Would a Catholic church consider it disrespectful if I presented myself for imposition there? I know communion is off limits for us separated brethren, but is it the same for ashes?

Diane said...

Dear Sister,
I’m glad I could help you with your post. :)
From my sinful point of view , I still disagree with you. My point was that whatever issue most needs redemption in our lives is probably a good sacrifice to work on during Lent. If we were doing the everyday ‘dusting’ and were not ‘fallen’ then by all means walk on a few peas .
Being exempt from fasting doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to fast. It means that if you’re not able you don’t have to. I have a priest friend who is diabetic and he assures me that he is able to do all required fasting and not use his ‘exempt’ card. Many vegetarians continue to be vegetarian through pregnancy. Being pregnant on its own provides ample opportunity for embarrassment and humiliation. (I’ve been pregnant 6 times.) You really don’t need to add a hat to it, draw attention to yourself and scare your family. You could try not to draw attention to yourself and your pregnancy. And making a favorite meal and not eating it is just divisive within the family(at the very least it’s drawing attention to yourself) unless you are on a special diet and don’t eat meat, refined sugar, wheat and some other foods that cause problems but the rest of your family does. Then it’s something you’re doing every day, if you’re still cooking for your family. But I was really thinking about people who are supposed to be on a special diet but refuse to make change. That’s a person who could diet for Lent, then continue on after Lent. Maybe some of us are not in great shape and ‘dusting’ is all we can muster.
As for the Reverse Lent Post, if we were all doing the things we’re supposed to do (in other words, not sinning) then we could go straight to manufactured sufferings.
Just in case I’m wrong and walking on a few peas will somehow loosen those other affections, I’ll give it a try. But, Shhh, don't tell anyone. :)
Please send me a photo of your funny hat on top of your veil (if you wear one that is).

Anonymous said...

No, Anonymous Alglican, ashes are not the same as Communion. Please join us.

sciencegirl said...

I think you'd be fine! I've never heard of any restrictions on who can receive ashes.

cathmom5 said...

Sister Mary Martha hasn't answered you yet. For what its worth, from a budding Catholic apologist, homeschooling mom of 5, and a convert from the Baptist faith (over 10 years now) I don't think that the Church would find it disrespectful. If anyone asks, just say you're from out of town. One caveat, though. If it is a Mass, you would be asked not to take communion, since you are not *in communion* with the Church--that *would* be disrespectful. Ashes okay--Eucharist not okay. If it is a Mass, simply pray or go up with arms folded over your chest for a blessing. The rememberance of where we came from ("from ashes you were made...") and the hope of where we are going (to leave this ball of dust and join our Lord in Heaven) is one of my favorite times to go to Church. God Bless.

Bridget said...

Dear Anon,

You are welcome to join a Catholic Mass/ Service tomorrow to receive ashes. I hope you do! We are bringing our (soon to convert) baptist friends and our Orthodox Friends to Church with us tomorrow.

Sr. Mary Martha,

I think you are just the bee's knees! I would love to meet you one day. Your blog brings me closer to God, helps me live the faith and often gives me a good chuckle. Can't beat that! Thank you!

Kathy said...

Sister, I want to thank you for your posts on what we should be focusing on during Lent. Based on what you said, I'm changing one of my usual practices. Normally I give up electronics after dinner during Lent. After considering what you had to say I'm going to give up tea instead. When I give up electronics I then fill in that time with another enjoyable pursuit, like reading or knitting. If I give up tea and replace it with plain water, I'll not only be forgoing one of my favorite beverages, but I'll be cold from now till Easter. I think that fits better with your message of aligning ourselves with the suffering of Jesus.


Gail said...

Dear Anglican,

I believe all Catholic churches are fine with you coming for the imposition of ashes; in fact, they know there are Protestants out there who like to come to the Ash Wednesday service and they will be expecting you! An indispensable website is masstimes.org, where you can enter a location by city, zipcode or whatever and get the locations, phone numbers, and schedules for Catholic churches in the area. You might want to check it out. I was raised Catholic and then left and was in the Episcopal church for 30 years before coming back to the Catholic church, so I understand the thirst that one can feel at times for going deeper and doing more in terms of our spiritual walk. Blessings to you and I wish you a good Lent.

Nun of a Kind! said...

Perhaps those of us with images in our heads from days past are upset by these images....however, what about the young people in the crowd? Images using situations that they understand as normal life might not be such a bad idea....just sayin'.....

Anonymous said...

I think Nun of a Kind might be right. Those Modern Jesus pics make me feel a little queasy, but there's nothing wrong with them - I'm just a thirty-something who's drawn to the deep history of the Church (among other things). But for a kid growing up, those might be a nice reminder that God understands and is like us through His Incarnation. It make prayer a less scary or pointless thing when someone with only small faith doesn't have to worry about "why should He care about me? what would He know about my modern/petty problems?"

Won't be replacing any of my favorite pics though!

Bethany said...

Sister Mary Martha,
I'm really enjoying your Lent themed posts latey.

I just have to weigh in on the topic of the pictures... I'm afraid they're not giving me the heebiejeebies just because Jesus is doing modern things, but because He seems to be doing them in a pretty smarmy way. Like He's trying to be sexy and make a pass at me, or maybe sign me up for Dish Network cable service. But that could just be my screwed perception.

Thanks for the great blog!

Deanna said...

I'm a parish director of religious ed. and work with students in grades 1-10. While I think the message of the pictures are good, especially the 'let's chat' one, I think the pictures of Jesus in modern garb would make my students giggle. But then again, maybe a little humor would help a lesson in prayer and God's presence stick in their minds.

Maegan said...

Dear Sister,

I also do not really understand the bit about making your favorite meal and eating a sandwich instead. Doesn't that kind of go against the gospel about not making a show of your suffering?

In regards to the losing weight or quitting smoking, I see the point about self-gain in the long run but I would say these two things are just as difficult and cause just as much suffering as eating the PB&J aside your favorite meal. And, maybe this is silly, but when Jesus suffered didn't we all benefit from it? If my boyfriend were to quit smoking - it would be of benefit to him, but it would also be INCREDIBLY difficult & I know he would miss it. It the end, though, it would also be to the benefit of others who are frequently exposed to his ciggarette smoke.

Your blog does make me realize I need clarification on exactly what the whole suffering during Lent thing really means and, as always, thank you for writing.

mph said...

Hi Maegan,
It's hard to explain this as I can see your point, but I think the problem with dieting or giving up smoking is that you get a great reward for yourself at the end of it - look how much money I saved, I feel so much fitter and look so much better now - so all the suffering gets you a "prize" at the end of it, rather than making you think about how much Jesus suffered and doing it specifically for Him.

Sister M. M., please do another post as I can't bear those pictures much longer and have to scan down quickly while looking the other way.

Diane said...

I'd like to point out that some big saints diagreed vehemently on certain spiritual matters.So that's a thought to chew on. (I can't remember who they were right now and I'm not implying that either of us are saints since we're still in the here and now.)

Also, while I'm sure I couldn't walk very far in your shoes, Sr. M.M., after reading about your grocery excursion from the link to Slings and Arrows, I'm remembering never getting to shop without at least two pre-schoolers with me. It wasn't slings and arrows, it was just life. Slings and arrows could be when your appliances break down right before your spouse has major surgery. Or maybe not. Maybe those broken appliances were actually a grace to keep your mind from too much worry.

My point is that it all boils down to perspective. No one else can decide how heavy a cross we carry.

And lastly, coming from my own sinful point of view, I'm so glad Jesus died for sinners, otherwise I'd never make it to the final communion. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I am young and those pictures give me the creeps. Please don't advocate creeping me out. Thank you :)

Sister MM said...

I'm a little late to weigh in with our Anglican friend, but I do know that it's perfectly fine to receive ashes, regardless of your faith. I teach at a Catholic school, and all the children - Catholic and otherwise - receive ashes together. Same goes for the blessing of throats on the feast of St. Blase. And no, I don't belong to one of those inclusive parishes where anything goes. Ours is "uber" conservative. Only the Catholic BOYS are allowed to serve, Communion is given on the tongue only, and at the rail, etc. So it's safe to say if our pastor gives ashes to all, it's okay by Rome, too!

JennyH said...

Question: If the purpose of giving something up for Lent (such as dieting or smoking) is NOT for a reward at the end, why give up anything at all? Isn't the purpose of giving something up for Lent for the ultimate end reward of eternal life with God? Is an eternity with God in heaven less of a reward than a skinnier behind or pinker lungs?
I am a DRE for our parish, and I teach the kids that they should "give up" something that prohibits them from being closer to God. Theoretically, a person may have a weight issue because they are eating to fill a need. Might I suggest during Lent a person look to God to fill that need rather than food? Isn't the hope that whatever sacrifice is offered during Lent carry forward into the entire year or an entire life?

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

I don't know who the saint of the day is, Sister, sadly :(

I just wanted to tell you that I love your blog and I've awarded it the Sunshine Award because it really does inspire me!


Helenrr said...

St. Polycarp..I saw it this morning. :) The name always makes me smile...
Thanks for the blog, the posts...I had to laugh about the guitar and liturgical dance. (and yes, keep it in your head, they might actually think it a good idea!).
Those photos are smarmy. and wrong. That's all...they could be so much better.

As for Lent, every year I learn more about giving up, taking on, spiritual deepness...every year seems to get deeper as well. I give up things and remind myself when I want them why I gave them up, offering it up for others, and turning to God. Sometimes I forget, but I just get right back up and keep trying. I actually am trying to take on more these days. Splitting hairs on the 'right' way to fast, give up, etc. seems besides the point.

At any rate, a good Lent to all, may it be fruitful!

~Helen R

Anonymous said...

Kathy wrote:
Sister, I want to thank you for your posts on what we should be focusing on during Lent. Based on what you said, I'm changing one of my usual practices. Normally I give up electronics after dinner during Lent. After considering what you had to say I'm going to give up tea instead. When I give up electronics I then fill in that time with another enjoyable pursuit, like reading or knitting. If I give up tea and replace it with plain water, I'll not only be forgoing one of my favorite beverages, but I'll be cold from now till Easter. I think that fits better with your message of aligning ourselves with the suffering of Jesus.


Dear Kathy,
Actually, it would be better to give up the electronics because it's a worldly influence and the goal is to draw away from the world to Our Lord. If you choose to read or knit, that would be ok...your reading could be spiritual reading (like Prayer: The Key to Salvation, or Introduction to the Devout Life, or Doctor on Calvary) or you could knit and offer every stitch with a Hail Mary or for some soul in need - though you might not knit that slowly. What you drink is neutral, though of course you could still give up tea. But the electronics certainly take a priority in needing to be given up either completely or substantially.

Anonymous said...

To answer Nun of a Kind, I'm a twenty-something and I think the images are creepy. They look like Jesus is pitching a singles chat line. I have no issues with Jesus being portrayed in a modern setting. I just have issues with Him being portrayed in this particular way. He is not a guy looking for a date; He is our Lord and Savior. The whole concept of the images just seems disrespectful.