Now, I bring this up because each year when Lent comes along, for many of us our “Catholic Upbringing” kicks in and we intuitively consider “giving up something”! In the process, we lean towards whatever that “penchant” in life may be as a possible sacrificial offering for this special Penetential Season. Our intentions are usually noble, but each year (no matter how unsuccessful we’ve been in the past) this process is repeated without giving it much thought. Well, I have to share with you that this year I considered going all out -- to the extreme of quietly altering my French Heritage by doing away with the consumption of any wines whatsoever for the entire Lenten period! Now, if you’re not a “connoisseur” of the fruit of the vine, you probably can’t fully appreciate the enormity of this sacrifice, but let me give you an example:
There’s a story told about an American tourist driving the French Countryside. When he saw an elderly man walking on the side of the road, he decided to offer him a ride. With a silent nod of thanks, the elderly gentleman got into the car. Resuming the journey, speaking a little broken French, the driver tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the man, but the old gentleman just sat silently, looking intently at everything inside and outside the vehicle, studying every little detail, until he noticed a brown bag on the seat next to the driver. “What’s in the bag?” asked the old gentleman. The driver looked down at the brown bag and said, “It’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my wife.” The man was silent for another moment or two. Then, speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder Frenchman, he said: “Good trade…”
So as you can see, I ranked “giving up” wine as a very noteworthy sacrifice -- until I read the Pope’s Lenten Message for this Jubilee Year of Mercy, where Pope Francis seemed to admonish those determined to adhere to the old tradition of “giving up something” for Lent. “Go out and do something,” the Pope said. “Practice the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy. Don’t simply give up something, but do something!” the Pope said. So knowing the importance of obedience, (sipping my “Chablis”) I pondered what sort of Lent this should be…
And here we are, rapidly approaching Ash Wednesday, well into the Jubilee Year. I feel compelled to ask each of you: How do you plan to grow spirituality during this special time? Our God is a God of surprises, says the Pope, and the Doors of Mercy are open to all who would dare take advantage of this special occasion to explore the mystery of God. Let us not allow this Lenten Season to pass by without continually inviting the Holy Spirit into our hearts, our thoughts, our actions, and our words, joining the mystics in learning to understand the intricacies of the human heart, and how our God wants to take refuge in the heart of man. I pray that you will allow this Lent to become a memorable experience. May God Bless you Abundantly!
Download our Six Weeks of Service Project flyer.
Photo: Life Touch
AUTHOR: DEACON JEAN PLOURDE
Deacon Jean and his wife Kathy are founders of Gabriel’s Corner Pregnancy Counseling Center in Council Bluffs. A Non-Profit organization established in 2006 to help women faced with an unplanned pregnancy. He and his family settled in the Heartland after a distinguished career in the United States Air Force. With increased faith, they became “Daily Communicants”, and joined the Deaconate Community where in 2003, he was ordained Deacon. He is Lead Chaplain for St. Croix Hospice, having overall responsibility for end-of-life pastoral care of patients in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Deacon Jean performs active ministry at Corpus Christi Parish in Council Bluffs.