A great piece on hypocrisy… my pet peeve.

One of my pet peeves in life is hypocrisy. This piece was written last week by Msgr. Charles Pope on the blog at the Archdiocese of Washington (always a great read!) and covers the idea of hypocrisy beautifully.

In the modern age we have tended to reduce the notion of hypocrisy to duplicity. The modern notion is that a hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does another, a person who is two-faced, who is inconsistent or phony. Jesus’ teaching on Hypocrisy does not exclude this notion but is far richer.

Its a great read on how we have a tendency to hide our true beliefs for fear of not being accepted.

Why I love Natural Family Planning.

As a follow up to the story on why I stand behind the United States Council of Catholic Bishops and over 2000 other religious leaders in the US regarding the violation of religious liberty in requiring insurers offer ALL insurance plans provide for contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs – hence forcing those who object to violate their religious beliefs in being forced to pay for such products and services – it seemed an appropriate time to discuss the ‘why’ behind Natural Family Planning (NFP).

Let me provide a little background before I get started, because I didn’t always feel this way about NFP. Years ago, before I converted to the Catholic faith, my husband and I attended a daylong seminar entitled something along the lines of ‘Heavenly Sex’ (for true!). It was offered by the Archdiocese of New Orleans (also for true!) and it seemed an interesting topic for a talk. Honestly, I had *no* idea what would be discussed but the title was intriguing. We spent the day with roughly 200 other couples listening to a Priest discuss the Theology of the Body. This was the first I’d heard of this particular Theology, but my eyes were opened – and wide.

I had been previously unaware that the ‘old and stagnant’ Roman Catholic Church had been headed by a Pope – John Paul II – who had made it a mission as part of his Papacy to bring to the surface the teachings of the Church as it pertained to human sexuality. His ‘Theology of the Body’ teachings had been encapsulated in 129 general audiences in which he walked through each and every aspect of humanity and its relation to sexuality. This was fascinating news to me and it changed my entire perspective on understanding the Church’s position on marriage, birth control, sterilization and abortion.

In a nutshell, it confirmed for me the intention of the act of intimacy between a husband and wife to be to produce offspring. Does this mean that it can’t be enjoyed? Not at all – quite the opposite. In fact, medical studies have shown that those attempting to become pregnant fare better when they fully participate and are engaged. Coincidence, I think not. To summarize, the Church teaches that artificial contraception is an attempt to ‘override’ God’s will and to define one’s own destiny. While I was enlightened as to the ‘why’ behind the teachings, I still was in the ‘my will be done’ headspace and not ‘thy will be done’ and couldn’t cross the hurdle into the world of Natural Family Planning.

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and this proves to be the case over and over in my life. Fast forward a few years and beyond the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) where I learned more and more about the history and teachings of the Church and the subsequent discernment process I underwent to be confirmed into the Catholic Church. Entering into the Catholic Church meant that I would enter into the Church as a full and complete participant believing *all* of the teachings of the Church. I struggled somewhat along the way with the idea of transubstantiation, but had a beautiful experience that sealed the deal for me.

Those who know me know that I am a ‘rule follower’ but I am not a ‘blind’ rule follower. I read, I study, and I struggle to understand in order that I can say ‘yes, I am willing to follow those rules because I believe in them’. This was a requirement for me in being confirmed into the Church. Of course, the rules said that the marital act I was to share with my husband would require me to be ‘open to the possibility of conception’. Don’t think I didn’t question the idea of artificial contraception. I spent a long time in discussion with a Catholic Doctor arguing the idea that since no form of artificial contraception had a 100% success rate, wasn’t I then also being ‘open to the possibility of conception’. He explained to me that the difference was between the ‘artificial’ and the ‘natural’. By placing a ‘barrier’ – either literal or in the form of drugs – I was closing myself off to God’s will. Okay, he got me and I understood. I still, however, struggled.

It wasn’t long after this that a friend was discussing her own experience with NFP and the ‘why’ behind it for her. She summed it up beautifully:

As a Catholic am I willing to say ‘God, I trust you in all aspects of my life – except this one.’

This absolutely encapsulated it for me and I was convinced. Nervous, but convinced.

My husband and I attended NFP classes given by the Couple to Couple League. We were one of roughly a dozen couples in the class and, surprisingly, not the oldest (we were the second oldest). Our instructors were a lovely couple who had four children and been practicing NFP for over 20 years and it had been 20 years since the birth of their last child. It would be hard to argue, with four children, that their ‘success’ rate in preventing a pregnancy for over 20 years had been a result of fertility issues.

We learned the sympto-thermal method in which you would chart three different symptoms to monitor your monthly fertility cycle: your temperature, your mucous, and your cervix. As a type A personality, I liked that idea of not being reliant on only one aspect to trust where you were in your cycle. One of the first things that we were taught was that this method is 99% effective WHEN PRACTICED PROPERLY. That last part is highlighted because I hear over and over and over – ‘I know so many couples who got pregnant while practicing NFP’. There are several NFP methods and the couples I know who got pregnant all admit to not practicing it ‘to a t’.

We began our journey charting and, at first, it seemed like a nuisance. After a very short while, however, it became a part of my daily routine – as natural as brushing my teeth or getting dressed in the morning. I realized that the entire ‘process’ took me all of one minute of my day. Aside from the minimal effort required on my part, my husband took an active role in actually being the one to note the items on our chart so that he also played a part and the onus wasn’t just on me to keep track of everything. The respect and care he showed for me by partaking in this was was entirely unique to this particular method and I began to really appreciate this aspect of our marriage.

His role would expand, however, in that NFP works by identifying your most fertile period of the month. Couples who employ NFP to space pregnancies must – egads! – abstain from intimate relations during this brief period of their cycle. I know, I know… this doesn’t fit in with our ‘anytime, anywhere, anyhow’ instant gratification model of society – why ever would one want to do THAT? To look at this phase of the fertility cycle in that way is to minimize the impact it can have on a marriage and a man’s respect for his wife – and even her respect for her husband – in overlooking the restraint they must exhibit if they wish to avoid pregnancy. Generally speaking, this phase of one’s fertility cycle lasts roughly five days. To suggest that one cannot go without being sexually engaged for five days is downright insulting to any member of the human species.

For our marriage, this method is a respect for natural law in which the act of intimacy is intended for procreation and a willingness to accept God’s will. I know many, who when I told them of our plans to employ NFP in our marriage, placed bets on how quickly I would become pregnant. Its been almost three years and so far – 100% effective!

The beautiful thing about NFP is that its just what it says it is – ‘Natural’. I am not pumping my body with class one carcinogenic synthetic hormones by way of the birth control pill making my body think its pregnant for years on end. As an aside, I did try the pill long long ago and learned very quickly how bad it is for your body when I experienced practically every side effect they had listed on the box. NFP doesn’t require that I walk around with a foul looking insert into my uterus to prevent pregnancy or cause spontaneous abortions by creating a hostile environment in which a fertilized egg cannot implant itself into the lining of my uterus. NFP doesn’t require that my husband and I have a latex barrier between us – wow, *that’s* romantic! NFP doesn’t require that I *never* be open to another child by undergoing tubal ligation or having my husband undergo a vasectomy. Having said all that, my intent is in no way to criticize those who choose any of those paths. I know that none of those are for our marriage.

NFP requires that my husband and I *work* together and that we respect natural law. It provides us with a mutual respect that we didn’t have prior to engaging in NFP and a complete openness toward one another. As time has progressed, it has become entirely ‘natural’ for us and my love for its methods and philosophy has grown tremendously. On  a side note, NFP has also proven to be very effective as a method of achieving pregnancy. NAPRO technology has an even higher effective rate than in-vitro fertilization.

Incidentally, it costs nothing – well, virtually nothing. All we need is a thermometer, a pen/pencil, and paper. That’s it. Oh – and a little self control now and then.

Wandering in the desert.

Today’s Gospel readings are a reminder of the 40 days of Lent as a walk through the desert:

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1: 12-15

Our Priest gave a wonderful homily on the unforgiving aspect of the desert. No one would ‘choose’ to go to a desert for ‘fun’ (at least not without ample supplies). In the time during which Jesus lived, the desert was about the worst place one could be alone. During Jesus’ time in the desert He was ‘among wild beasts and the angels ministered to him’. During his time of need, He was not alone.

In each of our lives, we experience periods of being alone and walking through the desert. We may feel cut off from friends, from family and from everyone who loves us. This is truly the idea of being ‘deserted’ – even if we have been the ones to initiate the desertion. Just as Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert, we often find ourselves in the desert as a result of giving in to our own temptations. The moments in which we feel the most alone in our own desert, are the times when we each need our own ‘angels’.

Our Priest talked about this today and the idea that its not so much that we need ‘pity’ whereby we watch others in their moments of despair from a distance, but instead – compassion. Compassion requires that we step in and provide love for those in need. We reach out to those wandering in the desert and let them know that they are not alone.

What a beautiful way to draw closer to God during this time of Lent by being an angel to someone walking alone in their proverbial desert just as the angels did for Jesus during His forty days in the desert.

Gendercide… and not in the third world.

In the third world we see a rash of abortions based on the sex of the baby. Girls = abortion. After the babies are born and the couples find that they are a girl, many times the babies are given up for adoption, killed, or simply abandoned and left to die.

Countries make laws making selective sex abortions illegal, but the laws are nothing more than ways to say ‘Well, we’re really trying to have this not happen.’ and somehow have ourselves feel good about our efforts when in reality we know there is absolutely no way to stop it. Doctors don’t enforce it and its all too easy to lie about the ‘why’ behind the abortion. How? Get your ultrasound, find out its a girl, and then go to a Doctor and tell them you simply cannot afford the baby. Is anyone going to follow up and find out that you knew that it was a girl? Is anyone going to care? No on both counts.

‘We’ve done a great thing by legalizing and encouraging abortion – right?’ Wrong. And those who are suffering are, by and large, female babies. This says nothing of the 80% of pregnancies terminated as a result of a positive result for Down Syndrome.

Is this what feminists wanted?

In the third world, unwanted baby girls ‘disappear’. It’s called gendercide. And it’s happening in this country, too

Apparently giving up Facebook is 'newsworthy'.

I stumbled across this article yesterday and it made me chuckle.

Chicago Woman Gives Up Facebook for Lent

It really could be a headline from ‘The Onion‘. The idea that the media would consider it newsworthy that someone would give up Facebook for Lent is comical but also a sad statement on society. It reflects how truly out of touch the secular media is with the rest of the Christian world. This may have been a surprise for the CBS reporter, but for Christians around the world, there were a flood of ‘see you in 40 days!’ messages on Facebook feeds around the world before signing off for Lent.

I did come across another similar story in which the woman decided to use her time productively and knit hats for babies instead.

Woman gives up Facebook for Lent and knits hats instead

Happy Lent!

Please pray for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

Friends,

Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been condemned to death in Iran for leaving Islam. Please take a minute and offer up a prayer for his release and safe return to his family. Officials continue to work to negotiate for his release.

White House, State Department condemn Iran on pastor’s execution orders

The White House issued a pointed statement on Thursday, strongly condemning the reports and renewed calls for Iranian authorities to release the pastor.

“This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values,” stated a release by the White House. “The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution-a fundamental and universal human right. ”

Mark Toner, spokesperson at the U.S. Department of State, released a similar statement on Thursday.

“We stand with religious and political leaders from around the world in condemning Youcef Nadarkhani’s conviction and call for his immediate release,” read the statement.

Peace and Blessings.

A little Lenten humor.

Simcha Fisher is a VERY funny writer. Enjoy!

Here’s a little taste:

WEIRD BEHAVIOR:  Your homeschooling friend is usually dressed, made up, and pulling some delicious baked good out of the oven by 8 a.m. while the children quietly practice their Bible memory verses together.  You stop by to visit her in her home one late afternoon, and she is not only still in her pajamas, but her kids, who are naked, are all on the roof, pulling bricks out of the chimney and throwing them at passing cars.  Smoke is pouring out of the oven, the dog is in tears, and your friend won’t come out from under the table.

EXPLANATION: She has given up lunch gin.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/a-non-catholics-guide-to-lenten-weirdness#ixzz1nKHfSUa9

Let's just get this out of the way, shall we?

It seemed as though now is as good a time as any to address the elephant in the living room. Like anyone who has a sense of what’s happening in this country – but particularly Catholics, I’ve been following the HHS contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs mandate situation very closely. Like most, I’ve been appalled – but not surprised – at the media mischaracterization of the objection of not only each and every Catholic Bishop in the United States (yes, we’re up to 100% now!) but also roughly 2500 other Christian and Jewish leaders too. It seemed a good time as any to debunk the media misrepresentation and general misunderstanding of the general public as it relates to this issue.

First, to clarify – the HHS mandate will require that each and every health insurance plan offered by each and every insurance company provide coverage for contraception (this includes class one carcinogen birth control pills and IUDs), sterilization (this includes tubal litigation and vasectomies), and abortion inducing drugs (this includes drugs such as RU-486 - which is made by the Roussel Uclaf who is in turn owned by Hoescht AG, formerly known as IG Farben who made Zyklon B and conducted medical experiments for the Nazis – and Ella). Because each and every plan is required to cover these products and services – at *no* cost to the person being insured – each and every resident in the United States will be required to pay for these services regardless of whether or not they a) need them b) use them or c) find them morally objectionable. This isn’t just about religious entities, this applies to everyone residing in the United States. The overall health insurance mandate requires that every individual carry health insurance or pay a fine, so outside of objecting to the mandate by paying the fine and not being covered – there is no ‘choice’ for those individuals, religious entities or even companies who find these products morally objectionable. The only choice that exists is a) pay for coverage and put your conscience aside or b) pay a fine and not be covered (which leaves us pretty much where we are today with people losing their homes and lives being bankrupted by skyrocketing health care costs).

Let’s set aside, for the time being, the argument as to whether or not one believes that the Church and others should or shouldn’t believe in the moral objections of contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs because the issue at hand isn’t one’s beliefs, but rather the idea of whether or not the government has the right to do the following:

  1. mandate that an individual or business entity purchase a particular product in the private marketplace using their private purchasing power
  2. mandate that an individual or business entity purchase a particular product in the private marketplace using their private purchasing power to which they have a moral objection based on religious beliefs

The Department of Health and Human Services has states that the reason for this mandate is that it is ‘less expensive to prevent an illness than to treat it.’ The first glaring issue with this particular mandate is that the Department of Health and Human Services is classifying pregnancy as an ‘illness’. I’m pretty sure that I speak for every mother out there when I say that – even at the moments I have been most frustrated with my children – I have NEVER thought of my children as diseases to be cured. Moving beyond that glaringly obnoxious categorization as declared by the HHS, there are a number of inconsistencies with this argument.

The first inconsistency is that insurers have come out since the contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drug mandate (‘You keep using that lengthy term – why?’ – because this isn’t just a contraception issue as the media would want you to believe) and indicated that they are unable to provide contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs at no co-pay or cost to clients without recouping the cost elsewhere. Contrary to the belief of the Dept of HHS, insurers do not a) have a money tree in the backyard upon which they can pick continually regenerating supplies of cash to pay for services b) have a deal with providers of the aforementioned services and drugs to receive them for free (hence, doctors and drug companies are also lacking the money tree in the backyard) and c) are also not able to pay for these services and drugs by way of Unicorn droppings. Here’s a big lesson in life – ‘Nothing in life is free, ‘free’ only means that someone else is paying for it.’ With that in mind, we know that the insurers will cover the costs the only way that they know how – by rolling the costs into the premiums charged to their customers. Who are those customers? Ultimately, you and I (‘But wait – my company pays my insurance – not me.’ – True, but the insurance they pay is part of your compensation package and is related to the company employing you. Indirectly, its the company using money allocated to ‘you’.). As such, the so-called ‘accommodation’ by the White House is really an indication of how stupid they think the general public is by trying to tell them – ‘No, you won’t be paying but the insurance companies will.’ making the accommodation an insult to the intelligence of the voting population.

The second inconsistency is that by doing this the insurance companies save money. The average cost of ‘treating’ a pregnancy is $7500. The average annual cost of the birth control pill is $600. If a woman is on the pill for the majority of her child-bearing years (18-40), it would cost the insurance company roughly $13200 for the cost of her contraception. And this is a cost savings how?

A third and most glaring inconsistency is in what the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t tell you about the fact that the birth control pill with its doses of synthetic hormones is considered a class one carcinogen. This means that it presents a risk in increased instances of certain types of cancers.

modifies slightly the risk of cancer, increasing it in some sites (cervix, breast, liver), decreasing it in others (endometrium, ovary).

Yes… it does decrease some cancers, but did the HHS factor in the cost of treating cervix, breast and liver cancer in their overall cost savings to the insurers because I’m willing to bet that chemotherapy, radiation and extended hospital stays are not inexpensive as are mammograms etc…

Finally, there is an even more obvious and glaring inconsistency in the HHS mandate. We are told that it is a ‘cost saving’ measure. Given that there were roughly 4.1 million babies born in the US last year and the average cost of ‘treating’ that pregnancy was $7500 we can ascertain that the cost of delivering those babies totaled $30.8 billion. Its hard to find statistics on the money spent on birth control pills alone in the United States, but a NYTimes article referring to the sale of Bayer’s ‘Yaz’ pill noted that at $616m a year in sales it represented 18% of the marketplace of the pill which puts the total market at roughly $1.2 billion. Of course, that number doesn’t include the cost of sterilizations and abortion inducing drugs. But, we can determine the that government wants to ‘save’ insurers roughly $26b per year (if we assume that the cost of all services and products to be provided for ‘free’ total $4b per year). Is it a savings? Yes. Will it be ‘free’? No. But if its all about cost savings then why didn’t the HHS mention the annual costs to insurers associated with obesity? According to the CDC, in 2008 we spent roughly $147b per year on obesity and obesity related illnesses here in the US. Our obesity rates are on the rise so we can assume that this amount is higher today and we are less than four years later.

If the HHS was truly concerned about ‘saving’ money for the insurers, wouldn’t they want to help target the health care costs of obesity? $26b may be a lot of money saved by not having to deliver those pesky little ‘diseases’, but if we could lower the obesity rate we could save up to $147b. $147b is larger than $26b right? So why not implement mandates that would target obesity?

Consider this idea… what if when you went grocery shopping, you were required to purchase – at a minimum – foods that would provide your family with a perfectly balanced meal plan for the week. You could purchase products you wished to have, but you would need to purchase the ‘healthy’ items first. We would all carry a card that would track our purchases that would need to be presented at the check out with each purchase and it would have a record of our purchases. If you’d purchased the healthy quota for the week, then you could purchase the yummy stuff – if not, you’d need to buy the remainder of the healthy stuff before you could purchase the Coca-Cola, the chips, the chocolate bars etc… If you didn’t like the food you were required to buy, that’s okay – you wouldn’t have to eat it. You could, if you wanted, leave it in a large bin outside the store that would pick up food and take it to the homeless. If you didn’t want to purchase these items, you could pay a fine and then be free to purchase the items you wished to purchase. Wouldn’t this help combat obesity?

‘Wait a minute. You can’t tell people what they have to buy!’ – you exclaim. Why not? That’s exactly what the HHS contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs mandate says. It says that anyone – because of the mere fact that they are living breathing human beings residing in the United States – must carry health insurance with a minimum of coverage as outlined by the HHS. Keep in mind that the overall insurance mandate exists because the government knows that by legislating that insurance companies are no longer able to restrict based on pre-existing conditions and people will not pay for the insurance until they get sick – it forces them to buy in and cover the costs. Hence, they are requiring everyone to purchase a pre-defined government product from a private enterprise. Isn’t this ultimately the same as the grocery store example? The products you would purchase from the grocery store would be pre-defined by the government and purchased from a private enterprise. Seem far-fetched? Not really. Health insurance is now mandated by the government and we need food to survive, so the grocery store example is actually *less* invasive because they don’t mandate that you go to the grocery store, they just say ‘if you do… you will purchase this’ in an attempt to promote healthy eating in the United States and to save money.

Keep in mind that all of this ruckus over the contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs issue could have been avoided if the HHS had simply offered two basic plans: one with the objectionable services and one without. Why didn’t they do that? Simple, the premiums would be higher for the one *with* the objectionable services (remember, insurers need to recoup the cost somewhere and the Unicorn poop just wouldn’t cover it) and people would figure out that they were, in fact, paying for these services after all. Insurers and the HHS need everyone to pay premiums in order to offset the increased cost of providing services for ‘free’.

I recently saw a quote that said:

If what happens in your bedroom is none of my business, then please don’t make me pay for your supplies or consequences.

Thought that quote provided a little levity and honesty in an otherwise heavy discussion.

In reading several pieces about the HHS contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drugs mandate, I came across a piece by Marc John Paul at ‘Bad Catholic’ in his ‘Open letter to Barack Obama Concerning Recent Tyranny‘. Marc John Paul is an 18 year old Catholic man who is wise beyond his years. He raises several wonderful points regarding the exercise of religious freedom and is extremely articulate. Perhaps one of the most significant points he makes is that this mandate is extremely insulting to women:

I know our world is idiotic and sexist to the point of the embarrassing belief that women cannot prevent pregnancy without pills, but as it turns out, they can. In fact, if you’re a woman reading this, chances are you’re preventing pregnancy right now. (If not, rethink your sex life.) Thus a health-care provider not providing free access to artificial contraception does not damn women to pregnancy — oh, the horror — any more than not providing diet-pills would damn them to obesity.

Let’s clarify one point he makes above to counter the misleading media representation – the objection to the mandate is NOT the Catholic Church or anyone of the 2500 religious leaders of the US trying to restrict access to birth control for anyone. To date, over 90% of women have reported that they have had access to birth control when trying to prevent a pregnancy. This isn’t about access to birth control and an attempt to restrict it in any way – its about individuals saying ‘That’s fine if you want to use it, but please don’t make me pay for it.’ Right now roughly 90% of insurance plans cover it, but the fact is that with this mandate no one will have a choice any longer as to whether they choose to cover it or not.

Finally, as this mandate pertains to religious freedom – the HHS contraception/sterilization/abortion inducing drug mandate clearly flies in the face of the US Constitution. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

If the government will not permit me to ‘opt out’ of paying for drugs and services against which my religion has a clearly defined moral objection – how is government *not* ‘prohibiting the free exercise thereof’? Quakers are not required to serve in the military as it violates their religious beliefs. The Amish are entirely exempt from carrying any health insurance and even Muslims may also find themselves exempt from the overall insurance mandate – both based on religious beliefs. The same individuals, however, are not will to recognize my religious beliefs and that of millions across the country. The Fourteenth Amendment provides ‘equal protection under the law’. If we are willing to allow for the exemptions based on some religious beliefs, but not others – aren’t we then allowing our government to violate the Fourteenth Amendment by allowing for religious discrimination?

I will continue to pray that those of us who believe that these products and services are morally objectionable will be given the choice to not have to pay for them as part of our health insurance. If allowed to stand, it sets a precedent in allowing for the government to mandate any product be required to be purchased by individuals from private entities. I hear the sales of Chevy Volts have been dwindling, perhaps we could mandate that every family making over $170k purchase one of those next!

Today’s writing wasn’t exactly ‘Lent’ related… but I did want to get it out there as it pertains to religious liberty in the US and it does help open the door as to further writing as to why I believe in Natural Family Planning as a viable family planning method.

God Bless.

A Lenten experiment… after a 'failed' Advent experiment.

As I spent some time sprucing up my site and getting it ready for ‘prime time’, I kept staring at my last blog post from December 4, 2011. My Advent promise was to write daily on my blog. Needless to say ‘I failed miserably.’ I’m sure I could drum up more reasons for the failure larger than the national debt, but the bottom line is that I just didn’t do it. Plain and simple.

I’d been struggling for the last month or so with what to ‘give up’ for Lent. Then I thought about the idea of ‘doing more’ for Lent instead of giving something up. Sadly, along the way I had completely forgotten the intent behind the effort. Thankfully, I had a cheerful and blunt reminder in my email box the other day in the form of a newsletter from Fr. Larry Richards:

Happy Lent! Are you excited? Another Lent is given to us so that we can draw closer to Jesus. Do not be misled; this is exactly what Lent is about! It is not a focus on us and all the things that we are going to give up, but it is a focus on Jesus and how can we grow closer to Him and become more like Him. So, with this in mind what is He calling you to do this Lent? This is not the time to do what you do every Lent. That means you are in charge. You need to ask Him what He wants you to do and then do it as an act of love to Him. You see, Lent is about love, sacrificial love – His love for us and our love for Him – so let us live this!

I’d never heard anyone wish someone a ‘Happy Lent’ before. Perhaps there are few in this world who can do so and make one truly smile – Fr. Larry definitely meets the qualifications required to be one of those few. He is so right in his assertion that ‘Another Lent is given to us so that we can draw closer to Jesus.’ Isn’t that what its all about?

Here I am again – back at my blog, only this time I’ve done things a little differently. I’ve decided to take it seriously this time. Rather than say ‘Okay self – you are going to write every day!’, I’ve made a commitment and changed my habits in order to do so. I’ve decided that rather than spend hours of wasted time on Facebook, I’m going to shift that time to this site and spend the time in contemplation and writing about my faith and how it impacts my life. I keep saying that I want to do so.

Maybe this time it will actually happen.