||Deacon Jack Fernan
As we approach Ash Wednesday and Lent, we are invited to look for our own penitential practices and the way for us to accomplish what God destined for our spiritual journey.
The most simple way, of course, is for us to first of all obey the 10 Commandments and to love God and our neighbor as we love ourself, and then to grow up spiritually.
Many years of haphazard spiritual practices have taught me to stop dilly-dallying around. If you too have not been very diligent about helping others grow spiritually, maybe we can get serious about improving our spiritual practices day by day and week by week.
So, get out your old blackboard and let's write down some beginning practices.
First, we must improve our prayer life. The sad lie that we don't have time has to go. I realize God has given you a family to honor, our parents and closest family members.
But let's start with God the Father, God our life-saving Son, and God the Holy Spirit -- the conjoining love in our hearts --and Mother Mary, who takes us to the royal Trinity.
Next, we can go to our extended family in heaven, all the angels and saints. We ignore these spiritual brothers and sisters at our spiritual peril. And can you also ignore the poor souls in purgatory?
It's really not a good idea to ignore all those lovely folks here in the Church Militant who might be so willing to help you spiritually and to receive your reciprocal help.
Fasting is another sure road to getting better in Lent. How about getting serious about time and priorities with your technology tools. You can answer your cell phone, e-mails, and instagrams and watch TV, but your time for God is not the first priority in your life? Whoa!
How generous are you in helping your neighbor, the alien, the widow, and the orphan? Is there room for improvement? Read Matthew 25: 31-46 for an eternal reality check.
Many areas are open to real discernment, such as stopping judging and worrying. Stop swearing, shape up your Sabbath and holy day practices. Stop coveting and pride.
When you are done improving your faith life in these areas, you may want to go back and start over, being more peaceful and loving this time.
Deacon Jack Fernan is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Madison.