Write In Between

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Deliberate Detachment and Intentional Attachment

I’m no expert on keeping “a good Lent”. I’m just a Catholic trying to stay close to Jesus, my family, my community, and my Church. Even just typing that last sentence makes me squirm a bit, because if you met me last week, you’d probably say I wasn’t really making any headway in those categories.

So, for the sake of those moments when we all feel spiritually weak and immature, I’m here to say: Inch forward.

Leaping, striding, dashing headlong into trying to recover what’s left in Lent by gritting our teeth, being extra-extra mortifying or sacrificial, etc, etc… well, forget it. Inch forward.

What we really need is a way to keep moving forward, if only an inch at a time. It’s a humility to be little. To be… less. (Especially to be less successful than we thought we’d be.) John the Baptist said it best, referring to Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30.)

Less is more when you bring it to Jesus. He’s the great multiplier of whatever few “loaves and fish” we’ve got.

Remember the boy who gave up his lunch for Jesus? Andrew said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" (John 6: 8-9) Look what Jesus did with that little one-time sacrifice! Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to [the multitude] who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. (John 6:11)

Remember what St. Therese of Lisieux recommends? "I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." C’mon now, a pin? I was thinking a little bigger than that…. but I wonder, could I really pick up a pin and do it in a loving way? If I’m honest about menial chores, (as my teenagers would say), I’m busted… the saints always get it right.

It all comes down to what I can do deliberately and intentionally. What can I do to deliberately detach myself from worldly goods? In what ways can I “give up a lunch” so Jesus might do more with it?

How can I intentionally attach myself to Jesus? In what ways can I “pick up pins for love”?

Better to skip lunch and make one prayerful, attentive daily Mass than (fill in the blank with something “extraordinary” I thought I might do for Lent.) Better to shut down the Internet and pick up my rosary with heartfelt devotion, than to (fill in the blank with what I thought sounded like a heroic Lenten practice.)

So, I’m inching along. None of what I might do this Lent will change the world. But it is supposed to change me. That way, come Easter, there might be an increase of Him, and a decrease of me. One lunch, one pin at a time: inch-by-inch.

©2008 Patricia W. Gohn

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  • It is odd how the smallest bit, is the hardest. Daily prayers, Sunday Mass, remembering to abstain, speaking up when we know we must lest we sin through omission.

    By Blogger Holy Water Salt, at 1:19 PM  

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