Thursday, March 01, 2007

40 Days to consider your freedom!

The following is from the March newsletter produced by Kevin Feyen, director of the Office of Youth / Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, IA. It is a nice little article on the connection between penance and personal freedom (a good reflection from Lent):

Four days ago, my wife caught our 1 1/2 year old son balancing himself on the top railing of his crib. Four feet above the ground, he was teetering. Of course, my wife, being a paranoid mother, is certain that if she did not come in at just that moment, he would have fallen to his death. Our son now has climbing abilities that would humble any Navy Seal, and we had no idea what to do.

So, we began the whole process of trying to teach him to sleep without four walls to contain him. We took the mattress out of the crib and placed it on the floor. We placed all his favorite stuffed animals and blankets on the mattress and told him he could be a big boy and sleep on a bed. We did not realize how he would take this freedom. He went on a "sleep strike". If nothing was holding him back, actually physically restraining him, he was going to play! For the next two days, every time we tried to get him to sleep, he resisted and insisted instead on demolishing his room and singing to his animal friends.

Finally, we gave in. I "modified" his crib so the walls could be higher and contain him. Now, with his new walls, he sleeps much better and has found a new comfort in the loss of his freedom.

Aren’t we all the same way? Do we think that because we can do something that we should do something? Just because Iowa has the possibility of somatic cell nuclear transfer, does not mean it is something we must do. Just because we can harbor hateful feelings and gossip about others, does not make it essential or good for us. Just because we can live a life where we constantly forget about God’s overwhelming love, does not me that we should not bask in it.

God has given us the blessing and curse of free will. Lent is a time to remind ourselves of the value of freely choosing Him.

In this way, we select personal disciplines that both remind us of our imperfections and, in doing so, benefit our church family as well. Lent helps us to provide a structure to keep us active in giving to the poor, praying daily, and ridding ourselves of greedy temptations. While these structures can feel oppressive, they exist to protect us and remind us of our human condition.

Let us all embrace this Lent as a way to take forty days to consider our freedom. Don’t give to the poor, pray, or fast because somebody says you have to. Instead, do all the more because you can. Make this Lent your expression of true freedom.

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