“The Same” is Not in Lenten Vocabulary by Fr. Barry Saylor

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March 20, 2021

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity share some practical, Lenten conversion helps from Fr. Barry Saylor, pastor of Christ the King Parish, Spencer, Wisconsin in the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse. It is now well beyond the beginning of Lent. The message is more urgent.

Well Lent has begun! A time for us to look at the final months of Jesus’ life and compare them to our own. Are our eye’s wide open or is it business as usual? Is our heart more willing to be lead by the Holy Spirit, or is it the same as it was February 16th. How is it starting out? The journey continues into this 2nd Sunday of Lent as we hear in Genesis about Abraham being told to offer a holocaust of his only son. Not understanding why or even asking, he begins the preparation, only to be stopped before using the knife. His full trust was tested, and he passes.

I’ve been focusing a lot of my own prayer on what I’ve missed that the Lord has called me to. I have to say I’m not very impressed with myself. I gave up soda (which is my preferred drink at all meals) along with fasting more often. Friday when I stopped to pick up a burger, out of habit I ordered my diet coke. After eating, I realized what I had done, ugggg. Spiritually I’ve committed to reading all the Prophetic books in the bible as a study. But what I’m working on the most is not missing out on all the opportunities presented before me each day. Oh boy is this hard! For example, the man in front of me is 53 cents short for his meal at Arby’s. I hear this and look in my wallet but don’t have any cash. The man changes his order and he now has enough. Why didn’t I just add his meal to mine? I’m walking into school and I’m in a hurry, I see students getting out of their car. Instead of waiting for them so they don’t have to buzz the office to be let in, I rush to my office, letting the secured door shut behind me. Why didn’t I just wait? First in holding the door and second to make that personal connection. I had a little “pitty party of one” on Ash Wednesday with being consumed with three Masses. I use the excuse that it’s been a long day and decline a dinner offer. Why didn’t I just go? Maybe they needed me more than I needed them? Missed opportunities. I hear this most often from family members when someone passes away. Things like: I wish I was there. I wish I had said I loved you one more time. I wish I had been a better sister/ brother/ son/daughter to them. The list goes on and on. If only… When I formed my “wish list for lent”, I did it knowing that when I mess up I start up again right away. I don’t intend to mess up, it just happens. But it is in forming that conscious plan of change, that allows us each to see that when we mess up, we are more aware of it the next time, and the time after that, and the time after that. Eventually we catch ourselves before we make the same mistake, and that’s why sticking with it makes it so important. We make ourselves more aware and therefore are open to the change that follows.

It all starts with wanting that change. I was talking with a friend and Lent came up. Through the conversation I asked how his Lent was going. “Same as the rest of the year” was his reply. Which I then said “well, that shouldn’t be the case, a journey involves sacrifice, and shouldn’t look like every other day”. To which the conversation quickly changed to another topic. Apparently change was not desired.

My friends, my prayer for each of you is that “the same” isn’t in your Lenten vocabulary. May you come closer to our Lord as you journey through the desert with him. May you see what Christ is asking and respond with a
trusting heart. Your seed has been planted at baptism, now allow it to grow! Be fruitful! Have a blessed week, and if things don’t go as planned, begin again the next day!
-Fr. Barry

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