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Making Lent Meaningful
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Monk Michael Casey offers wisdom to those venturing out into the desert this Lent. In “Strangers to the City,” Casey argues that “It is the end that renders the means meaningful.”In so arguing, Casey also sums up the whole body of Catholic spiritual thought. Fasting done during Lent for love of God is a redemptive spiritual exercise. Unmotivated by an attached intention, however, fasting instead becomes just a restriction of calories.
And so Lent teaches us a lot about grace and redemption, and the means thereof. We do not receive ashes on a Wednesday in March, for example, because it’s a family tradition. Those ashes mean something, and our reception of them out of a spirit of repentance and humility makes them meaningful.
If we are striving towards union with God, therefore, then the simple act of holding a door becomes meaningful when it is motivated by seeking that union. This is why the monk or nun who spends years praying, studying and, for example, tending a garden at a monastery or convent for love of God live out the most dramatic of lives because they give meaning to each and every action of the day.
This Lent we are invited to sanctify, or make holy, all aspects of our lives as well. Let’s bring meaning to our habits of forgoing meat on Fridays. Lets pray more and give money to the poor motivated by a desire to unite our sacrifices with those of Christ. As Michael Casey says, “It is the end that renders the means meaningful.”
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