New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 8, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas
K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung
Msgr. Eugene O’Callahan offers communion during Ash Wednesday services at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Ash Wednesday ushers in the beginning of the Lenten season, a 40-day period of fasting and penitence that culminates on Easter Sunday.
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Page 8A — Herald-Zeitung — Saturday, March 8, 2003Religion
Contact Features Editor Brian Grant, 625-9144 ext. 222
40 days to being a better Christian
Priest: Lent about following Jesus’ example
By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer
In Roman Catholicism, Lent — which represents the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the desert resisting the Devil’s temptation — is intended to be a renewal of people’s lives brought about by sacrifices and lessons they learn, a local priest said.
“They are able then to become better people — to renew their spirits, union and friendship with God,” said Msgr. Edward Bily of Sts. Peter and Paul Church. “And also they can always listen to the word of God and not be hardened.”
Bily said Lent is also supposed to help Catholics turn away from evil, adhere to the Gospel and to help them to remember that Jesus Christ is compassionate.
Lent is also supposed to get people to thank the Christ on their way to eternal glory.
Bily said during Lent, Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays to symbolize Christ’s sacrifice — he died on a Friday — Good Friday.
So Catholics pray and fast, or eat less. They also atone for their sins by per
forming good works. And they can abstain from eating meat on Friday. Why?
This also imitates Christ’s’ example when he was in the desert, fasting and abstaining from meat for 40 days and nights prior to his crucifixion.
Also, Catholics study the Bible during Lent.
So they can be better Christians after Easter. And continually, after Easter, “people can continue to do better every year to improve spirituality and relationship with God,” Bily said.
Bily then described what general good works Catholics often choose to do during Lent.
“The people choose to do what they want,” Bily said. “In other words, helping people who are in need, visiting people and performing other works of mercy and kindness you can do for people.”
Bily also said people can perform positive works to atone for past offenses — “and do it so they can continue to grow in love and unity with Jesus and become better Christians.”
One lesson from Lent besides sacrifice is to teach
Trust the saw to make the cut
Warm weather motivates some people to cultivate their gardens and others to wash their cars. I choose to do less glamorous “projects.”
I climb on the roof to remove clogged foliage. Gutters, like life, accumulate clutter and need to be purged. Joy, however, is found only in the completion of the job, not in the process.
I also trim my trees of branches that are either in the way or just plain ugly. I never enjoy this task because it requires too much effort and produces far too much sweat.
Pleasant weather and naked branches can make the pruning experience more bearable. A recent adventure into “limb-o” gave God an opportunity to show me something I needed to understand about what I do versus what God does.
Past experiences with borrowed saws and duller blades make me want to force the cutting action, figuring by doing so, I can achieve faster results. Even my brand new saw with its sharp new blade did not prevent me from thinking that extra and unnecessary effort on my part would facilitate the process. I want to think that the saw depends on me, but in reality, I depend on the saw.
As the sharp saw quickly and easily shoed through some unsuspecting branches, I realized that my part in the cutting process was
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not as vital as the part the saw played. I discovered that with a properly designed tool, I didn’t have to put out as much of my own effort. In fact, the more effort I exerted, the less efficiently the saw worked. The more I relaxed and simply engaged the saw, the better it performed.
God showed me that like Him, the saw can be both trusted and relied on to do what it was designed to do. Like God, the saw could and should do the bulk of the work. I simply needed to trust it to do so. Its ability to do its job transcends the effort of the person who uses it.
This does not mean that I can lay the saw on a branch and it will automatically activate its cutting magic. What it means to me is that I can rest in the strength of the saw and by “comfortably” doing what I am supposed to do (move the saw up and down or back and forth), the saw would make the incision with ease and efficiency.
God is far better at managing my life then I am. I make life more difficult when I try too hard to control God’s activity.
(The Rev. lim Judkins is the teaching minister at ' First Protestant Church.)
Catholics to resist evil and temptations like Christ did when the devil tempted him three times while in the desert.
Also, attendance at church services are part of Lent -observing the stations of the cross, which show what happened to Jesus as he carried the cross to his death on Mount Calvary.
Stations of the cross are held once or twice during the week and people from the community are invited to come, pray and meditate on the events Jesus’ journey to death and eventual resurrection, Bily said.
Bily said that all Lenten activities are to help prepare Catholics for a spiritual renewal on Easter Sunday, where church services, or masses, celebrate Christ’s rebirth.
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