Aloha Friday Message – February 27, 2009 Re-Lent (?)

Aloha nui loa everyone. Make it a wonderful day!
I think many of you will remember me writing about “Today’s Healing Word” and how I come up with one pretty much every week (if not, just drop me a note and I’ll send you “What Is The Healing Word?”). Often that word comes as a surprise, and sometimes it takes me a while to figure out what it means in the context of my life. This past Sunday was the last Sunday before Lent, and so Lent has been kind of on my mind – What am I going to do for Lent?

I guess all of us have phrased that differently: “What am I going to give up for Lent?” Well, there are definitely things I could do without for at least 40 days (and probably the rest of my life if I’m honest about it). A couple of years ago on Ash Wednesday, Crucita and I stopped smoking – sort of poetic justice in that I guess – and that has been a 99% lasting change (we fudged a little for about a week some time ago). I could certainly give up loading up on SUGAR before I go to bed! Maybe a little less vino would be a good idea. But really, the best Lenten observances are they ones where you ADD things.

You can add more prayer, for example. You can get a smidgen less sleep and read the Bible – maybe even some devotional material along with that. You can go to church more often, or give time, talent, and/or treasure to a needy family, a just cause, or a reputable charity. You can be reconciled to God and to your neighbor or family member or even to yourself. Lots of good things happen when you add something to Lent along with giving up something. So all of that was on my mind Sunday, and I am thinking I want to be sure to write down “Today’s Healing Word” in my journal. Wait….. Wait…. It’s almost time…. “…Only say the word and I shall be healed.”

I WROTE IT DOWN! But I wrote it like this: ReLent. I closed my journal and got back into the Eucharistic Prayer. Later I looked at it and saw ReLent. I thought, “That’s silly! It’s like Re-Lent – Do Lent over. Silly old man! You can’t do it over! This is a new one.”

Later I thought about it some more. The homily that day had jarred loose the memory that when God made us in His image, He gave us the power to forgive one another and also – something most of us are not very good at – to forgive ourselves. Not all of us have the authority to expiate sin, but all of us have the power to forgive injury, whether by force or hatred, by doubt and despair or misunderstanding or marginalization – whatever the injury, we can forgive it in others and in our own lives.

I’m the type of person who is highly self-critical. Some people who know me well would disagree with that because I’m often annoyingly arrogant and can fly off the handle quickly (takes me a long time to land after that, too!). But I know all of that about myself, I know what a jerk I can be sometimes, and I get on my case about it perhaps too often. To relent is to become less severe, to be more pliant, less strict, and certainly less punitive. I thought about this Lent being a good time to relent on my past transgressions. God doesn’t remember them any more, so there’s really not much sense in me beating myself up for things that are long gone. The reminder that I can do that stuff is something that can be useful, but getting angry with myself about it is not needed. I can work on that. That would be a good thing.

Then I remembered about God saying he would relent. There is this passage in Joel: “… return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God.” And of course there’s that time when Moses spoke with God on the mountain and said “Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self, saying, ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky; and all this land that I promised, I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage. So the LORD relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.”

Good. That’s something to focus on, too. God will relent. He says He will do that whenever we remember Him and live as he intends us to live. In fact, that pretty much makes all the rest of the stuff we go through worth getting through it. He just keeps forgiving us and loving us even when we can’t to that for ourselves. Way cool! With these two terrific ideas to think about, I began to feel like this would be one of those great 40 days what would end with a spiritual boost to get me through the weeks and months until the next Lent. By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was positively excited about starting let again.

AGAIN?!?! Wait! I thought we couldn’t Re-Lent! **ding!** I got a idea! The light bulb went on. Of course we can! You can re-up – as in reenlist. You can come back and do some more of the same thing, but it’s not the same thing really because now is a new time and you are a new person because you’ve changed since the last time you did what you’re doing {huh?} You know what I mean! Sure! You reenlist, you volunteer to do some more because that’s what you want to do, it’s what you feel right doing; it’s what makes your life better. It’s your vocation, your calling from God. Yeah! Really! Didn’t you hear Him calling, “Yet even now, says the LORD, come back to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning”; He’s telling you to come back, to re-up, and to Re-Lent!

Oh, my! I am so ready to do that! Care to come along?

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever — at your service

In God WE trust


Here is something you could add each day that will make a difference.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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