Life is a collection of days and some days are better than others. This may seem so obvious and maybe that’s why we don’t question it. But why are some days better than others? I discovered one thing as I became more aware of what is going on in me and around me; that if one day doesn’t start well, it very rarely ends up as a good day. How do you start your best days? Most people don’t know. They have an idea but they’re not sure... Try to start your day with a prayer, even if it is brief, and watch as it impacts the rest of your day.
One of the great struggles of Christian life is surrendering to God’s will. Opposing God is a fool’s mission. Only a madman or a selfish person would resist God, and yet I suspect that we all fall into both categories from time to time. Too often we resist God’s will. We can spend all our energies fighting with Him for things we don’t really need, instead of surrendering to His perfect plan for our lives. If you really want your life to be better and have a noticeable spiritual growth, commit to prayer adapted to the daily examination of conscience. St. Paul advised the first Christians, “Each one, examine your conscience”... (I Cor. 11,28); St. Ignatius popularized this in the first week of his famous spiritual exercises. He believed that the daily examination of conscience is the most important thing about spiritual exercises. One of the treasures that this practice brings is a greater awareness of who we are and what is happening in us and around us. This awareness accentuates our ability to experience life, i.e. it increases our ability to live. The daily examination of conscience challenges that, freeing us from living unconsciously. It seems to me that people now have less and less self-awareness. Many of the things we say and do are screaming. Am I fully aware of how my way of speaking and acting affects the people around me!?
Lent is the occasion that the Church offers to all, indistinctly, to take time in the very environment in which they live without having to retreat to a lonely place. A well-lived Lent is a kind of healing and detoxification of the soul. If Lent didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it today. There is not only carbon poisoning on earth; there is also poisoning from excessive noise and light; we’re all kind of drunk with hustle and bustle. It is not only believers, but every person conscious of having a spirit to protect and defend. Also, the spirit is entitled to a vacation!
Today’s “pharaohs” say, “Inundate these young people with hustle and bustle, stun them with images, so that they are amazed and confused, they may not think, may not decide on their own. Let them follow the latest fashion, let them buy what we offer them, consume the products that we say”! What to do? The Church offers us an answer: fasting. Only, there are many types of fasts. It used to be understood as abstaining from meals and meats. This is still recommended. Nevertheless, this is not the most necessary fast today. No food, Jesus said, is in itself impure. What makes man impure is what comes out of his heart. More necessary than the fasting of food is the fast of murmurings, of noise, of respect and good treatment to others, but above all, of images. We live in a civilization of images; we have become image-devourers. Through television, computer, cell phone, magazines and the press; it is the same reality, we allow image waves inside us. Many of them are unhealthy, they carry violence and evil, they only incite the worst instincts in us. They are expressly designed to seduce. But perhaps worse, they give us a false and unrealistic idea of life with all its consequences, pretending that real life offers everything that advertising presents.
The perverse images (pornography) barely entered within us, do not die, but ferment. They are transformed into imitation impulses, compromising our freedom... Another of these alternative fasts that we can practice during Lent is that of ugly (bad) words (Ephesians 4,29). The parishioners of a Parish decided during one Lent to fast from bad words, following this recommendation of St. Paul and it became a BLESSED LENT.
Recently Pope Francis surprised us with a new proposal for this 2020 LENT, with fifteen simple acts of charity, as concrete manifestations of God’s love (the fasting of meat during Lent is over): 1. SMILE. A Christian is always cheerful 2. Say THANK YOU for little things (even if you don’t have to). 3. REMIND others how much you LOVE them. 4. GREET with joy the persons you see every day. 5. LISTEN to other people’s stories without prejudice, and with love. 6. STOP to help. Pay attention to those that need you. 7. Try to RAISE the spirits of people around you. 8. CELEBRATE the qualities and success of others, thus avoiding envy or jealousy. 9. SORT OUT the things you no longer use or need, and give them to those in need. 10. Be ready to HELP when you are needed so that others may rest. 11. GIVE CORRECTIONS with love, do not keep quiet out of fear. 12. Maintain GOOD RELATIONS with those around you. 13. KEEP CLEAN the things you use in the home. 14. HELP others overcome obstacles. 15. CALL, and call on, your parents more often. What beautiful recommendations Pope Francis gives us. They are a great help to get back to “politeness”. They stopped teaching common courtesy in schools, thinking it would be taught at home, and to some extent they were right, but now we can apply the phrase: “if what is known is silenced, and thus silenced is forgotten, and if forgotten is not put into practice” and because we do not practice it, we do and say what we please, without thinking about the respect that we owe to other people. Let us during this Lent return to living with love and respect and make this time a Blessed Lent 2020 !
God wants you to be happy, even more than you do yourself!