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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Am I afraid to be changed? Don’t be, at least when it’s God doing the changing – 365 times in the Bible we read “Do not be afraid”.

The fridge magnet "Diet starts tomorrow" can make some of us laugh. It is somehow in us to put off things we need to do which are hard to do. Dieting is a good example of that for many. But in Lent there is a tradition of giving something up and the purpose is not to lose weight so we can fit into a slimmer pair of jeans. The purpose is a denial of self, the training our will. By giving up we realise how grateful we are for what we have. It also has a tendency to remind us that we are dependent on so many things which don't really make us grow as persons and we need to be dependent on God. As with all ‘penance’ it can make us more open to his power.

But what should I give up? I heard a story the other day about a father who had urged his children to move beyond giving up sweets to give up some habit of sin that marked their lives. About halfway through Lent he asked the children how they were doing with their Lenten promise. One of his young sons had promised to give up fighting with his brothers and sisters during Lent. When his father asked him how it was going, the boy replied, "I'm doing pretty good, Dad—but boy, I can't wait until Easter!"

This boy had only partly understood the purpose of Lenten "giving up"! Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life. That always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ.

Now is the time for us to reflect about the parts of our lives marked by sin. Now is the time to reflect about them & to give them over to God. The sacra-ment of confession offers tremendous healing and strength to those who desire to be renewed and have the courage and the grace to be changed.
(N.B. see the Pioneers’ “Pledge idea on the inside)

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:24 pm