Balance. It is not easy to find, but definitely worth the effort! This Lent,
why not make assessing the balance in our spiritual life, and ‘finding the
sweet spot’ a goal? Finding balance in our practice of prayer, in fasting and
the place of sacrifice in our life, and in our almsgiving and service? Our
Gospel on Ash Wednesday will highlight one side of the fulcrum.

Prayer. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus tells us that when two or three gather in
his name, he is present. He often prayed together with his disciples. Think
of him giving thanks, praying with a huge crowd during the multiplication
of the loaves & fish. He prayed too with smaller groups, think of the last
supper. There is an echo of each every time we gather for Mass. But this
Wednesday, he will remind us that prayer alone is also essential to a balanced
prayer life. His prayer in the desert which we will commemorate
next Sunday highlights the importance of solitude. Public prayer, solitude –
do we find adequate time for both? Is our spiritual life balanced in that
regard? Lent is a good time to take inventory!

Fasting. There is value to fasting together, as when Jesus, his family, and
his disciples would have observed Passover. Public fasting has merit, for it
can be a witness to the importance of sacrifice and emptying, and we can
encourage one another. But showing off our fasting and sacrifice as a
badge of honor – the value is seriously compromised! Like prayer, finding
a balance between sacrifices we share with others, and those which we only
share with God – that is finding a sweet spot.

Almsgiving. In recent weeks Jesus told us not to hide our light under a
bushel basket. Let our light shine, so that others may see our good works
and give glory to the Father. Ash Wednesday, Jesus will point to the other
side of the scales: almsgiving in secret is also part of a healthy spiritual life.
Almsgiving for show is bad. Never letting our light shine is also problematic.
Praying to find the right balance, so that some of our generosity encourages
others, but some is just between us and God – that is a balance worth
examining this Lent.

Is solitude encouraged at times in your household? Also praying together?
Are there times you fast or sacrifice together? Is everyone encouraged
to make some ‘secret sacrifices’? What about a work of mercy you all
participate in? But not forgetting of course that some ‘secret’ almsgiving,
or giving of oneself is vital. Lent – a wonderful time to keep working
toward ‘the sweet spot’.

To be real concrete – how will the little black books we all have fit into the
balance this Lent? A few minutes for just you and God – spend some time,
as it will invite us each day? At Home with the Word? How about reading
the readings together, and using for prayer? Check out the bulletin board
too! Peace always, Fr. Bob

Friday, February 24, 2017