Saturday, 26 March 2016

The Lent Project #10 How To Die

Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. 
Romans 6:3-4

This reading is one of the MANY Easter Vigil readings today. Some people think there are too many, but it's SALVATION HISTORY! It's the story of victory, of salvation, of triumph, of spring, after the long dark winter.

But how does our heart rejoice fully on Easter Vigil, if we have not tasted the death that Jesus suffered? And what is this death we were baptized into?

Death to the sin in our lives

We CANNOT get comfortable with our sin. We CANNOT compartmentalize our lives. We have to be willing to do whatever it takes to fight the sin in our lives, and allow it to be crucified on the Cross with Jesus. That's painful! It can be a bloody, bloody fight. Like fighting in the ring, being knocked down, and getting up again and again. And again. Whatever it is, you know your own sin. It's fighting the lack of love, the obsessive self-centeredness that shadows our every decision.

Practically it could look like:
  • Being willing to accept that yes, you really are a sinner, and yes, your sin is UGLY
  • Waking up and facing the people who've hurt you and loving them and smiling at them again and again.
  • Dragging yourself to Confession after yet another lapse into impurity (of any kind)
  • Refusing to give up on hope that yes, you can be different, one day you WILL be different

  • Making yourself vulnerable to people who can help keep you accountable
  • Dealing a deathly blow to your pride and asking for forgiveness when people confront you with your sin, instead of justifying it or brushing it off
Saying yes to the crosses He offers us

It's the invitation to 'choose what we did not choose.' To accept the painful or annoying or frustrating circumstances of our lives with grace and patience, believing that He will redeem EVERYTHING one day, wipe away every tear, make all things new. That includes our own weaknesses, our pasts, our family issues, our struggles with anxiety and depression, the death of loved ones. You can't run away from them, but are called to embrace them, in trust.

Practically it could look like:
  • Waking up and going to the job you hate, under the unfair tyrannical boss who takes every opportunity to put you down, and letting go of resentment, and patiently praying and loving him or her
  • Accepting that anxiety or depression are a part of your life, and taking the medication you need, praying for healing, and keeping on keeping on
  • Loving and living with difficult family members and their weaknesses and issues without exploding with frustration every five minutes
  • Accepting the hormonal craziness of PMS or menopause and offering it up instead of turning into a furiously grumpy maniac (This has NOTHING to do with me or my life. Nothing.)

 Dying with Him to lessen the burden of a suffering world

This one is a little harder. It's a whole re-orientation of our lives, the careers we choose, the way we spend our money, how we react to poverty and suffering in the world. It is a constant moving away from our comfort zones, in order to lessen the discomfort of others' lives. THIS IS FREAKING PAINFUL.

Practically it could look like:
  • Giving up luxuries like new phones or expensive holidays or alcohol in order to have more to give those who are struggling to even pay for their children's education
  • Living in a lower middle class instead of upper class apartment in order to be closer to people who deal with the struggles and  challenges of a less privileged comfortable life
  • Running a summer club for kids from poorer backgrounds even though they're rowdy and it's hot and sometimes you don't know what you're doing
  • Responding to appeals for help even though you think you've done enough 
  • Living sacrificially, being quick to offer to serve, or say yes when someone asks you to serve even when it's not convenient

Choosing the discipline of holiness

Fr. Robert Barron says, "People can be fascinated by the spiritual and the religious, drawn in by a charismatic personality or an intense experience, or by trauma. But when they lack the discipline of a religious tradition, they become in time vaguely spiritual. Nothing in life that is taken seriously subsists without discipline and perseverance."  Loving God involves sacrificing me-time to go deeper into Him.

Practically it could look like:
  • Waking up early to spend time in prayer
  • Investing time in reading the bible, the Catechism, the lives of the saints
  • Dropping in to an Adoration chapel for some spiritual radiation
  • Going for weekday Mass
  • Fasting and sacrificing (not only at Lent)

Our celebration of the Resurrection is going to be transformed from a long church service to a GLORIOUS reminder of the ultimate victory... if we allow ourselves to participate in the DEATH of Christ.

Recommended listening: Baptized Into the Death of Christ by Fr. Nathan O'Halloran SJ
[^^I cannot recommend this highly enough. I wish every Christian would listen to this talk.]

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