Lent: Charting our course through life’s stormy waters
By Matthew E. Weilert
Now that we are well into Lent, we are on a journey of penitential reflection and renewal. We have many waypoints to guide us through, looking toward Holy Week and the three-day festival of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, which goes by the formal name of Triduum.
Sailors of old who depended on the wind, sun and tides to make their way would take "sightings" or "reckonings" then calculate their position to ensure that they were on-course. As we journey through this season of Lent, our "spiritual charthouse" holds the navigational charts of our faith, to guide us on a course safe and true. The early church fathers, the papal encyclicals and the sacred tradition of our faith are various waypoints where we can check if we are "on course" or if we are veering too close to the secular shores. The very timbers that frame this spiritual charthouse are the concepts and teachings found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Not only is it good reading, it’s a good reference to have at our side: at home, at work or at school. Having the Catechism available makes it possible to dip into the riches of our faith at throughout the day, which can often be filled with moments of doubt and spiritual warfare.
One of the storms we face are overwhelmingly secular messages bombarding us constantly with themes purposefully designed to carry us away from God’s laws and his plan for our reaching the shores of Heaven. At the one end, we have marketers’ mayhem, ads everywhere, designed to encourage consumerism. At the other end, we have school curricula used in 870 school districts across the state, that are in direct opposition to the values we hold dear as Catholics. From moment to moment, we are deluged with messages that are contrary to much of what our faith teaches.
Lent is the time to turn away from those contrary messages and refocus our attention on Christ. Perhaps this means discussing one’s vocation with a member of the clergy or other trusted spiritual adviser. Is God calling me to religious life? Is God calling me to marriage and family life? Is God calling me to blend my family life with a successful business career? Am I being called to empower and help others do good work? Lent is a time to reflect on these questions and seek guidance in our vocation.
The riches of our faith span centuries, cultures and seasons of the heart. As we follow Blessed John Paul II’s call to cast out into the deep let us pull from the spiritual library of our faith time and again. Not only do these treasures help us find our way, but when we share them with our friends, they also help others find their way. Lent is also a time to embrace the New Evangelization and share the Good News of Christ with those around us. We are called to make the Gospel as friendly and as functional as possible and share our excitement for Christ with everyone.
Jesus calmed the stormy seas for the disciples, just as the Holy Spirit helps us through the stormy waters of life. As we open our hearts, minds and ears to the Holy Spirit, he will guide us and give us the strength to live our convictions as we sail forth into the days to come.
Matthew Weilert writes on behalf of the Central Texas Fellowship of Catholic Men (www.ctfcatholicmen.org). He considers Ascension Parish in Bastrop his home parish and currently is a member of St. Louis Parish in Austin. He has one son.