February 27, 2015

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Climb higher, achieve more during Lent

Sean GallagherIt wasn’t long ago that our youngest son Colin, who will soon be 18 months old, seemed to go from crawling to walking in a matter of days.

You don’t see him crawl anymore. That’s for babies.

Now walking isn’t good enough for him. He’s beginning to trot around the house.

And most importantly for him, he’s also started to climb.

If he sees a chair, he seems to say to himself, “I see a chair. Therefore, I must climb.”

He’ll toddle over to it, grab on to the far side of the seat and pull himself up on top of it. And if the chair is next to a table, up he’ll go. If it’s not next to a table, he’ll often push it next to one and climb away to his heart’s content.

That contentment quickly disappears and loud frustration and anger ensues if his mother Cindy, his brothers or I have the gall to take him down from his newfound perch for his own safety’s sake.

Colin knows the heights that he was made to climb, and won’t be deterred from them. He’s driven to achieve, and God help the person who gets in his way.

It would be good for all us to have in our souls something of that drive for greatness in this season of Lent that began a little more than a week ago.

We can sometimes purposefully make our Lenten resolutions easy enough that they’re really not that much of a sacrifice. And if we happen to slacken in them, we’ll make excuses for ourselves and maybe even forget about them altogether long before Holy Week comes around.

I know that this has been the case with me at times in the past.

We were made for more than just the minimum, however. God’s grace can help us achieve more. And achievement in Lent really means being drawn into a closer, more loving relationship with God and his people through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Now seeking to do more during Lent doesn’t mean that we’re supposed to become great spiritual athletes. If that is our goal, our attention will often be focused more on ourselves than on God and our neighbor.

We don’t have to climb a spiritual Mount Everest. God will help us see plenty of hills in our lives of faith that are challenging enough at this stage in our relationship with him.

Instead, work diligently with the help of God’s grace on being faithful to the Lenten disciplines that you have chosen for yourself. And if you think that there are moments when you can do a little more, go ahead and try.

That might mean attending an extra daily Mass, fasting a bit more from using your favorite smart phone or tablet or giving more time to your families or your neighbors in need.

We may stumble in our attempt to climb a little higher. But God will always be there to help us get up again when we fall. His love can keep us from getting discouraged, and help us nurture that drive to achieve.

So this Lent, let’s try to be a little more like Colin. The drive that he has to climb ever higher is in each of our hearts. We just tend to bury it amid rationalizations and good old-fashioned laziness as we grow up.

God’s grace, however, can fan back into flame the coals that we have hidden under the ashes of self-satisfaction.

If we take the opportunity to climb a little higher this Lent with a reinvigorated heart, the spiritual view will be tremendous when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection at Easter. †

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