March 16, 2007

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

What was … what is … what evermore shall be

Shirley Vogler MeisterFor the first time, I was more retrospective than ever when 2007 arrived.

Now, with nearly a quarter of the year spent, I find myself being more introspective. The reason is Lent, of course.

At the year’s beginning, I thought more about what I had learned or accomplished from successes and mistakes of the past year as well as contemplating what I’d like to accomplish the rest of the year.

My Lenten thoughts are much more spiritually based. This provides a better sense of myself as a whole than at the first of the year.

Lent is a time to nourish ourselves more spiritually. Consequently, not only do our spirits benefit, but our minds and hearts do as well. Our penance, prayers and meditation, and our charitable and volunteer focus can be better because of Lent.

At the beginning of the year, many of our good intentions fall by the wayside as the months go by, making us realize that some of them are merely dreams or wishful thinking.

Lent is completely different. It prepares us for what’s ahead—the giving of our lives to God with the remembrance and re-living of what Jesus, his Son, gave to us.

The bottom line is: We know that, despite our hopes or plans, we really must deal with the circumstances that face us each day, whether good or bad, doing the best we can under whatever the circumstances. Lent fortifies our efforts as we approach each day.

That probably seems mundane, but it is true. As writers, speakers, priests, nuns, teachers, philosophers, parents, friends, saints, sinners and simple experience has taught for centuries: Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown and today is the only reality we have. We should use each day in the best way possible in as many positive ways as possible.

This does not mean demanding of ourselves more than we can physically, mentally or emotionally handle. I have learned from experience that the limitations of strength and energy can spur us to overextend ourselves. We learn, adjust and give what we can.

Continue Lent with blessings and peace, dear readers! Let us fortify our souls so that the Easter season and our time thereafter can be more holy and wholly fulfilling. We learn from our mistakes, problems and pain. Still, when on the right spiritual track, we acknowledge what was, enjoy what is and anticipate whatever more shall be. Even when disagreeing, that still brings us closer.

As the Lebanese-American poet and artist Khalil Gibran wrote, “A disagreement might be the shortest cut between two minds.”

Some Catholics might even rebel against Lenten requirements, but most Catholics follow them for the benefit of their bodies and souls.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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