By Brendan McCann
’17-’18 Service Year
Since it’s Holy Week I wanted to take some time and talk about Lent and what it has meant for me this year. Lent is a time to prepare for Easter and it is usually a time marked by some kind of fasting. A couple of years ago I came across the idea that rather than giving up something for Lent you should try to do something extra instead. If you think about it the sacrifice at that point becomes your free time which in turn becomes time spent with God which is the ultimate point of Lent. There is nothing wrong with giving something up other than your free time however I notice a lot of people will do things like sacrifice sweets. For me personally I don’t think giving up chocolate would enhance my relationship with God anyway; it seems more like a second attempt at a New Year’s Resolution.
Last year I came across video series Best Lent Ever which is developed by Dynamic Catholic. This is a daily video series where Matthew Kelly will give a brief talk around whatever the theme of the week is. After the talk there is a reflection question which is first answered by a staff member at Dynamic Catholic, ideally you should be able to answer the question for yourself afterwards. When I did this series last year I did not take a lot of time in answering these questions but this year I did and I found it very helpful in self-reflection. In addition to responding to the questions I started to write down some of the lines that I was hearing during the talks because I found them powerful and they were resonating with me. I’m going to list some of them down here because I think they don’t apply to just me but anyone looking to grow their relationship with God.
Rather than saying that I have to go to work we should find something that makes us say “I get to go to work”
This has been particularly relevant for me as I try to find employment for my post-service year.
“The primary purpose of work is to become a better person”
We don’t need to be saving the world or working for a non-profit for this to be happening. If we bring the best version of ourselves to work every day than we are impacting those around us.
“You grow in one virtue you grow in them all”
Often when we want to become better people we will come up with a whole list of things that we need to improve on. However this can be overwhelming but even putting our energy into just one virtue can cause change for us.
“Live for an audience of one; God”
Don’t worry about the judgements of everyone else when making decisions, ultimately Gods is the only one that matters.
“The great myth is that we can be happy by doing whatever we want” “We’re not living for pleasure we are living for everlasting happiness and joy”
People often confuse pleasure for happiness. Pleasure is temporary and often disappears when things start to go wrong. Happiness on the other hand is not dependent on things going our way.
“Take the time to respond, don’t just react”
This is good advice for anyone who is guilty of impatience or quick to anger. Take time to actually think about what is going on and address your own needs before you just take it out on the first person that comes your way.
“Do small things with a great love”
Everything we do matters and has an impact on people so we should do it with love.
“Most of the things we worry about we have no control over or will never happen”
There is a difference between problem solving and worry. We need to recognize the things that we have control over and if we realize that we are past the point of things we can control then we need to let go.
“If you’re looking for God look to the present”
Anticipation, shame, nostalgia, worry, God can help us through all of these emotions of the past or future but we are only able to experience him in the present moment.
“People have the expectation that life will go smoothly but the truth is that life is difficult”
While this may sound harsh it is the reality of our life. Even Jesus had to go through major trials during His lifetime and God expects no less from us. At the end of the day though these struggles are what enable us to grow.