Women Mourn Jesus

Lent Obsession

Each year I obsess about what to do for Lent and then like my New Year’s resolution usually fail and give up in short order. This year I will try to fully engage with my spiritual side and give my rational mind a 40-day sabbatical to the extent possible for a professional.

I’m going to intentionally explore areas of self-denial, giving, and prayer rather than just picking some food item I could live without? I live in the world and I see it not as a pit of sin but a beautiful and hopeful place filled with more people of good will than bad intents. My practice during this Lent will be to find the Church I seek in my own spiritual life rather than looking for it others. I seek a Church that isn’t filled with twitter post by angry and vengeful Priests or those that are so rigid in their faith that they are unable to accept others who have different practices. I seek people that see beauty in the world and the beautiful aspects of the Church and the faith. I seek tolerance for all that that are searching. I seek a Church where it is more important to worry about and moderate my own desires than to obsess about the perceived sins of others. I will trust that others know when they are going against their consciences and they will in time address it. My role in their lives is only to provide compassion and when asked honesty that is soaked in love.

My Weakness

I don’t have a pet sin for which I have zero tolerance. I do have great patience for the person that has failed in self-denial of desires and who struggles and fails. At 56 most of my sinning days are behind me. I try to live lightly on the earth, give to charity, etc., etc., etc. However, my weakness is food. I love to cook, and I like to eat and drink wine so it would be hard to deny that I fall victim to the deadly sin of gluttony and spend an excessive amount of money on fine food and wine.

“The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco or medicine” (No. 2290).

My excess can be measured in wastefulness, quantity, and spending more on food and wine each week than a person making minimum wage earns. I’m going to use the CRS Rice Bowl recipes as examples of meatless meals that that are simple and frugal. Whatever I save I will give to the CRS Rice Bowl as a donation.

Prayer

I belong to Zen group and recently someone asks if the members prayed, did we think the prayers were answered and was it embarrassing to admit? My husband could not understand why anyone would be embarrassed by prayer. Being embarrassed expresses a sense of self-consciousness and confusion that should ideally be absent in prayer or meditation. I haven’t been able to let go of that as I have never been able to utter a public prayer. Once Sr. Joan, the Provost at Clarke University, suggested that since I should start meetings with prayer that it might help me to write them down so all I had to do was read them. It did not help.

Lent is the only 40 days of the year. This year I’m going to let myself obsess about religion and faith. My goal is not to be embarrassed that my rational mind loses out to my faith. Rational mind be damned I’m going to try and grow during this season. At my age, it is good for the continued functioning of the brain to learn something new. I’m going to learn some more Latin (good for the aging brain) and practice by attending a Latin mass or two during Lent and memorizing some of the Rosary in Latin. I don’t want to be the person that is so rigid in my faith I can’t be open to the beauty others find in theirs and in this case a Latin Mass. I admit that I have a bias against it. I often associate it with the vengful Priest that are too critical and those that are so rigid they only see the sin in others. It is odd that I hold this view as the one person I know that attends Latin Mass regularly is a very kind young woman. This will be an exercise in addressing my own biases and looking for beauty in a different kind of practice.

Giving is Easy

The easy part is giving. Donating what I save on food and wine to the CRS Rice Bowl is obvious. I will also make a sizable donation to the parish or order of the Priest I read on social media that says the fewest hateful, condescending, or uncharitable things about others. That includes not publicly criticizing what he sees as the sins of others. Fraternal correction is not the same as public twitter comments or criticism. Twitter is filled with blowhards that appear to think being critical of others is their pastoral calling.  I think good behavior should be rewarded and maybe a potential donation will mean something to a parish or order that can help me to see the beauty of the faith through kindness in their approach to the many rather than the few. 

Women Mourn Jesus

Stations of the cross at St. Andrew’s Abbey


Voting My Conscience

She or he who votes influences every policy made during an administration. Never believe that you do not have a role as a private citizen. Each elected official and their political appointees are the direct result of your vote and they are most definitely influenced by the will of the people. This is all the more reason that it is essential to be well informed about how the government actually works. We should all know the powers each branch of government possesses, how laws and policies are made and then implemented, and the impact of bad policy originating from inadequate consideration of the consequences of actions.

As a practicing Catholic who finds peace at a Zen center, I vote. I always vote my conscience. I do not let absolutes rule how I vote nor do others decide for me.

Abortion – I believe we should strive to save all beings. Abortion isn’t the only way we harm beings or stopping abortion isn’t the only way to save them.

War – War harms beings. In generally I’m opposed to almost all war but would not deny people have a right to defend their countries and a responsibility to try and prevent genocide. It should be the last choice and not the first.

Right to life, liberty, and happiness – Does liberty matter if we are not safe, risk death in school or a movie theater, and, as a result, live life in fear and unhappiness? Fear can be derived from unaddressed terrorism, violence, crime, poverty, or even lack of access to health care, employment, or education.

Equality – Inequality harms beings. None of us are more or less deserving than another. Each of us is equally responsible for standing up for the oppressed and, to the extent possible, leveling the playing field.

Freedom – God endowed us with freedom of conscience and faith. We should endeavor to show equal value to all who choose to exercise that freedom. Sometimes it will make us less efficient and other times it may make us question the values of certain beliefs, but least it be my belief or your belief that is some day not valued let us value all beliefs and no beliefs. Let us also not work to impose those beliefs on others. They should come to them freely and in their own time or not at all.

People must decide for themselves how to weigh factors that are important to them. However, we should recognize that the factors are all connected. If the only issue that drives my voting choice is abortion and I don’t care about poverty, health care, education, and safety then am I pro-life? Likewise, if I’m a pacifist or strongly opposed to war and yet turn a blind eye to genocide or terrorism then what does it say about the value I place on life or peace?

What too many people fail to realize is that making policy isn’t like “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” ― Franklin D. Rooseveltrunning a business. There is no profit to be made in government. Profit is easy to measure, whereas the impacts of policing or preschool programs is not. Whatever one does will result in some people being better off and others being worse off. The challenge is in finding the balance and learning how to hear those with little influence at the same volume as those with power and money. It takes humility to listen, determination to follow the evidence, patience to wait for and recognize the moment when public sentiment will make a policy feasible, and a skin thick enough to take the hostility from people who are willing to scream all manner of epithet and so frequently unwilling to serve or even learn about the government of this great country.

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17