Confirmation: Drip Torch Series Keeping the Fire Burning Bright
With Easter only a few weeks away, we can all feel the excitement and anticipation of that glorious morning when the tomb lies empty and death lies defeated at the feet of a victorious Christ. Couple this with our final preparations for our youth to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and it can become easy to lose sight of first things. I talk here of the importance of our own prayer lives, which can often be neglected during times of intense work and preparation. During this season of penance of preparation, it is paramount that we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” In the midst of fasting and penance, a true desert in our lives, sincere prayer can become dry and difficult to maintain with any regularity. It is critical, however, that we dive ever deeper into our prayer life during Lent. When I began the aesthetic practices of the Exodus 90 program, I was warned point blank that to undergo penance without prayer is a “spiritual suicide,” and I have absolutely found that to be the case. The cold showers and lack of creature comforts become far more unpleasant without a solid grounding in prayer. And that is why, in addition to preaching to our youth the importance of Lenten fasting, the practice of prayer not go neglected. As Christ would say, “doctor, heal yourself.” As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, what better exercise for such a task can we undergo than to rededicate ourselves to Christ incarnate in the Eucharist? By this I mean both regular reception of his body and blood in the Mass, and time set aside to worship him in adoration. The act of a regular confession, along with the recitation of the rosary will also provide for a greater spiritual harvest in our own lives, which can in turn be poured out upon those we minister to. And while all of these practices can greatly edify our spiritual lives, by far my favorite practice is that of the “Heroic Minute.” It is both simple and beautiful, given to us by Saint Josémaria Escriva, a 20th century saint who strove to preach about the sanctification of the laity through their daily work. This was and remains today a fairly revolutionary concept within the life of the Church, if one considers the sheer volume of recognized saints that are members of the clergy. Essentially, the Heroic Minute is undertaken as soon as you wake up in the morning. You get out of bed and get on your knees and spend a solid minute in prayer, both as a thanksgiving and a plea. You give thanks to God for the many gifts he has bestowed upon you, and you plead for his mercy as you go about your day. And that is it. You go about your day and make it one of service to others. Here we arrive at the crux of the point. A life in Christ need not consist of great and revolutionary acts that shake the foundations of the world. Rather, it is a recognition that the little tasks we undertake will in fact shape the lives of many around us, if they are undertaken with a sincere love for others. Our ministries need not touch upon the great esoteric writings of early Christian mystics, or include globe trotting acts if we are sincere in our love for Christ and his children. And what better way can we show that love in our work, than by entering ever deeper into our own relationship with Jesus Christ? For after all, “if I have not love, than I am a banging gong and clashing cymbal.” God bless you all, and may your Lenten practices be fruitful!