Lent has arrived. Millions of Catholics will go to mass today to receive their ashes. Ash Wednesday begins a time of prayer, fasting and giving alms; though many people do not observe this sabbatical from self-indulgence. For Catholics, it is mostly a time of penance as we take 40 days to abstain from those things which bring us personal gratification. We are called on to perform acts of charity for others, and attempt to carve out some quiet time during our day to pray and get closer to God in order to obtain the fruit of spiritual growth. These traditions are important and significant to Christians. However, I have found that penance can sometimes be easier than celebration.
For me, the past few years have been somewhat about doom and gloom for an array of reasons, mostly the radical and foreign, unAmerican politics we barely survived during the Obama administration (I prefer to call it a cabal or faction); but also personal struggles that have not exactly escaped me, and why should they?
As Catholics, we give alms, atone and fast for 40 days. No doubt Easter is a great cause for celebration. But I believe Christ already suffered and died on the Cross for me, and resurrected so I can have eternal life. I personally see no reason to continue to ritualistically crucify Him year after year.
On Easter many will be celebrating the resurrection of Christ, as will I. So many Catholics will also be celebrating the breaking of the fast and the chocolate, soft drinks, beer, wine, coffee, deserts, nail-biting, cussing and all those other things we tend to indulge in during the year, but abstained from during Lent, await us once again on Easter. As hard as it may seem to some to give those things up, its really no big deal. After all, not eating or drinking a favored delight for 40 days is no real sacrifice. Although I have to admit, I never crave steak or chicken wings on Fridays, as much as I crave them during Lent.
I went to early mass this morning for my ashes. I listened attentively to the message. Father spoke to us about the meaning of Lent. I decided that during these next 40 days, I would take the time to celebrate those things and people that I inadvertently take for granted all year. Of course, I will atone and lash myself for all those atrocious things I’ve said and done or not said and done. However, this year, I will make a concerted effort to celebrate.
I will celebrate my colleagues. The people in offices where I have worked who have overcome difficult moments in their lives; or who have been supportive of their kids during hardships when what they really wanted was to ring their necks. I celebrate friends who struggle financially yet go to work every day with a good attitude, and especially a dear friend who has overcome a life-threatening illness and whose big beautiful smile always brightens my day whenever I see him. I Celebrate you.
I celebrate the people that offer me a forum to express my views, even though they may at times disagree and their unwavering resolve to make expression of ideas and thoughts available. Thank you, I celebrate you.
I celebrate mothers. Even though mine is with God, many of you still are lucky enough to have yours, and better yet, your children can still be spoiled by their nanas, grammys, bubbies, abuelitas and grandmas. What a great gift. I Celebrate them.
I celebrate the love, lives and legacies left behind by our dearly departed who are no longer here physically, but whose spirits live on in our hearts. I celebrate them.
I celebrate active and wounded members of our military who vowed to die for my freedom, even though they don’t even know me. I celebrate every single one of them and their families who live every day wondering if their soldiers will heal or even come home. Thank you.
I celebrate your hardships and mine because without adversity, we wouldn’t find our resilience and the certainty that we will make it through and once we do, we will be all the better for it. I celebrate our struggles.
I celebrate every unborn child in their mother’s womb. I celebrate those who foster and adopt unwanted children and give them loving homes they would otherwise not have.
I celebrate children, especially my own, who do such a good job of keeping me in check and letting me know I am loved, every day. Thank you, I celebrate you.
I celebrate my new baby granddaughter Mia Dulce (even though I am not old enough to be a grandmother), she is a beauty and so hungry all the time.
I celebrate my health, the health of my family, and the health of every one of you reading this post.
I celebrate my friends and the laughter we’ve shared; sometimes even to the point of cheek pain or slightly peeing or both; the tears we have cried together or for each other’s hardships, and the tolerance each and every one of them show me every time I just can’t keep my opinions to myself. I celebrate you.
Finally and most importantly I celebrate the Master of our Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, without whom our time here on earth would just be a pointless journey with no hope of eternal life. May God touch all of you this Lenten season whether you are Catholic or not, and may a celebratory heart beat inside you all year.
Lent, a time for Celebration? Absolutely.