March 2017 On The Lenten Season
In February of 2017 We gave you two exercises to perform. It is time for us to examine our consciences on these matters.
Father Leonard Goffine said: “Remember, with one moment of time, if you employ it well, you can purchase eternal happiness, but with all eternity you cannot purchase one moment of time!”
How we use our time tells us what we truly hold to be important. The week of Sexagesima to Quinquagesima Sunday We asked all to keep track of how they use their time. It is time to examine our conscience on this matter. How well did we spend that 168 hours of time we had that week?
After examining our conscience, let us consider what changes we need to make in our lives to use our times better.
In organizing our time, let us keep the following in mind from Goffine:
In the market-place, that is the world, they are standing idle who, however much business they attend to, do not work for God and for their own salvation; for the only necessary employment is the service of God and the working out of our salvation. There are three ways of being idle:
Doing nothing whatever;
Doing other things than the position in life and its office require, or if this work is done without a good intention, or not from the love of God.
This threefold idleness deprives us of our salvation, as the servant loses his wages if he works not at all, or not according to the will of his master. We are all servants of God, and none of us can say with the laborers in the vineyard that no man has employed us; for God, when He created us, hired us at great wages, and we must serve Him always, as He care for us at all times; and if, in the gospel, the householder reproaches the workmen, whom no man had hired, for their idleness, what will God one day say to those Christians whom He has placed to work in His vineyard, the church, if they have remained idle?
Are we idle, or do we use our time well?
Saint Alphonsus says: “No time must be lost, but every moment employed in praying, in reading or in performing the duties of your state of life.”
We are asking all to acquire the habit of spending an hour or more each day in prayer and spiritual pursuits, such as meditation, meditative reading, spiritual reading, etc. When we examine how we use our time, we will easily find an hour.
We also asked you to keep track of how you spend your money for a month. We asked you to track your use of each penny. This also shows what we hold to be important.
“Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
Although we may not all be called to give up all that we have, we are all called to support Christ's Church. How much money did we waste on pampering and indulging ourselves, that could be put to better use? Lent is a good time to take up the practices of self-discipline and self-sacrifice.
My Mom said that as a child in school, they were given a mite box in which to put the money they ordinarily spent on luxuries, such as going to the movies. Every time they gave up a recreation, during Lent, they would put the money in the box. At the end of Lent they brought the boxes to school and gave the money to be sent to the missions. We could pursue a similar course of action.
Let us consider what the Catechism teaches us:
402 Q. Are we obliged to contribute to the support of our pastors?
A. We are obliged to contribute to the support of our pastors, and to bear our share in the expenses of the Church and school. And any charitable institution connected with the Church.
Taking care of the who served the Temple in the Old Testament
The Holy Land was divided among the tribes of Israel, who were the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob. Now, one of these twelve tribes was made up entirely of priests and persons who served in the temple of God, called Levites. They received none of the land, but were to be supported by the other eleven tribes. All the people were obliged by the law to give what they called first-fruits, and tithes--that is, one tenth of their income in goods or money each year to the temple for its support and the support of those who served it.
In the New Law no definite amount is assigned, but every Christian is left free to give what he can to God's Church according to his generosity. But if God left you free, should you therefore be stingy with Him? Moreover, all that we have comes from God, and should we return Him the least and the worst? For every alms you give for God's sake He can send you a hundred blessings; and what you refuse to give to His Church or poor He can take from you in a thousand ways, by sending misfortunes.
We read in the Bible (Genesis 4) that Adam's sons, Cain and Abel, both offered sacrifice to God. Abel's sacrifice was pleasing, but Cain's was not. Why? Because, as we are told, Cain did not offer to God the best he had, but likely the worst; or at least, he offered his sacrifice with a bad disposition. Then when he saw that his brother's sacrifice was pleasing to God, being filled with jealousy, he killed him; and in punishment God marked him and condemned him to be a wanderer on the face of the earth. We are told he was always afraid of being killed by everyone he saw. See, then, what comes of being unwilling to be generous with God.
What we give Him He does not need, but by giving, we worship and thank Him.
Do not people in the world often give presents to those who have done them a favor, that they may thus show their gratitude? Now, God is always doing us favors, and why should we not show our gratitude to Him by giving generously in His honor? When we give to the orphans, etc., we give to Him; for He says: "Whatsoever you give to these little ones you give to Me."
Again, when Our Lord tells what will happen on the Day of Judgment (Matthew 25:31, etc.), He says, the Judge will divide all the people of the world into two bodies; the good He will place on His right hand and the wicked on His left. Then He will praise the good for what they did and welcome them to Heaven; but to the wicked He will say, "Depart from Me, because when I was hungry you gave Me not to eat; when I was thirsty you gave Me not to drink; you clothed Me not," etc. And then the wicked shall ask, when did we see You in want and not relieve You? He will tell them that He considered the poor just the same as Himself; and as they did nothing for His poor, they did nothing for Him.
Let us ask ourselves whether we are offering the sacrifice of Cain or of Abel? Indeed, are we offering any sacrifice at all? Some give the first fruits, others the last fruits and some give nothing at all to Almighty God and His holy Church. And let us consider that to fail to contribute to the support of the Church is a sin.
We should be generous with Almighty God, because He has given us so much. Indeed, all of our money comes ultimately from Him. He could easily render us unable to work and take all we have away. He asks for so little, when He could ask for everything. And yet, we refuse Him even the little He asks of us. And why? Because we would rather indulge our own selves and our own desires. Saint Paul says that we are “lovers of pleasures more than of God.” (II Timothy 3:4) It should be obvious that this attitude is the road to hell, not to heaven.
As we live out the holy season of Lent this year, let us spend time in examining our consciences and making changes in our lives to bring us closer to Almighty God. Let us ask God to send us the graces we need to make these changes. We here are praying for all of you throughout this holy season of Lent, and continue to pray for you always. You are remembered in our Masses and prayers here, especially on the Lord's Day, when We offer Mass for the Church.
May God bless and keep all of you during this holy season of Lent and bring your heart closer to His most Sacred Heart, and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May God grant us all tender hearts.