Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: February 11, 2020

It’s almost Lent. Get ready! No, not to give up something you care very little about, but rather to give in to something greater. A greater sense of your Christian faith. A greater way of being a Catholic. A greater sense of mission and a life of service. It will soon be Lent, and God will ask you, as God does every year, “What will you give me this year?”

Sadly, most of us will turn away from that prompting from God. We would rather not confront our own weaknesses and our own unwillingness to actually be a source of good in the world. We would rather not look at the ways we fail to serve; it is, well easier, right?

Lent is a time of purging and a time of rebirth. Brother Sean reminded me the other day that every Lent we lost people who simply cannot confront themselves or let go of the things of this world. But, as a parish, we remain undeterred. It is the job of every good priest to confront and to love in our transitions. But, if we are unwilling to transition, or to change, it is also our job to admonish and remind again. Lent in and Lent out; every year.

Last year, we were home to the WE ARE ALL HOMELESS Project. Those signs, written at the hand of a borrowed pen of those experiencing homelessness changes us and deepened our practical and spiritual commitment to serve more. Our Blessing Bag Outreach and Scarves with a Purpose, and soon the development of our campus are all the fruits of our willingness to look within deeply and to change and serve more. But we lost a few parishioners, too. One who said we were too liberal and another who said we welcomed ‘unsortly’ (sp) types, and another who wished not for her children to be exposed to the ‘dirty homeless people’. So be it. Sadly, so be it.

Three years ago, in Lent, I asked if you were planning to give something up. Despite my urging to instead add something wholesome to your life, and rid those things, that were harmful, many felt it easier to not eat meat on Fridays! I asked you to care less about chocolate or fast food and more about loving people and God. Attend Mass weekly, give to others, pray, worship in Adoration, volunteer at the parish, deepen your giving to this parish that gives so much to you, ensure your children are at CFF every Sunday and honor those who plan and sacrifice to give them a quality education, anything that will help you to become a better person, and us a better people. Few did, but I would like to end with one family who did just that and cared for me in the process.

The Cuffey-Mitchell Family decided that since I live in small quarters in that RV before our Friary-Rectory was built, had no stove, and sacrificed so much that they would make me a full meal every week of Lent. And so, for six full weeks, every week, delivered to the door of my RV was a full meal for me and my family. Every single week of Lent, when the Devil was at his worst and spiritual warfare was at its greatest height, when many were hating me and talking about me behind my back, this one family brought me a warm meal, with all the trimmings, and reminded me what true love is.

As in year’s past, this Lent’s focus will be nothing short of deeply meaningful and will cause some to fear change or refuse to abandon their prejudice at the door. But we will remain undeterred and focused. After all, Lent is a time of change, of introspection, of purging and of new beginnings. St. Francis once said, “Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”

Will it be for you? How do you love? Do you love enough? How will you show someone that does so much for you that you love them, truly love?  


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