Giving up Faith for Lent?

At Mass this morning, I was mindful of two things as the priest talked about the significance of ashes.  First, as a faith community we prepare our Catholic children to strengthen the fabric of who they are in the Catholic faith.  If we do our job as parents (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2228), after our service here on earth has ended and we return to the Lord, their Catholic identity is the well of hope and joy throughout the remainder of their lives and into eternity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 33).  Second, I am keenly aware there is a very real force that is active, strong, relentless and with designs to undercut everything that we believe and is in possession of the purpose to quash the essence of our identity as practicing Catholics (Cardinal Dolan to Bishops, 2012; Freedom of Speech and Religion Under Attack, 2011; Huelskamp, T., 2012Hardball Matthews on Conflict Between Church and State, 2012).

Giving up faith for Lent?  If our government has its way, I think it would prefer I did.  For example, it would not have to contend with a commitment to grow in faith and serve my Lord in the public arena (Faithful Citizenship).  Moreover, it most certainly would prefer I not object to its infringement on religious freedom and allow it to intrude in the sacred space of conscience, where one's identity in relationship to God is framed and acted upon.

The significance of Lent goes far beyond giving up chocolate, soda, Twitter or a Saturday matinee.  The significance of this particular season of Lent is more important than in any time past (Moment by Moment, Listening for the Lord).  Our devotion to what we can learn from Lent must be made stronger in our hearts and within our homes (domestic church).  

Today, we yielded to the priest and allowed ourselves by free will and consent to be marked by ashes as a symbol of our awareness that life is brief (Ash Wednesday).  In that gesture, we also proclaimed our commitment to turn away from sin.  However, in turning away from sin, we turn toward God.  And by turning toward God, we have a responsibility to a relationship that is responsive and public.  Just as I cannot deny the public practice of fatherhood in my relationship to my daughters, I cannot deny the public practice of faith in my relationship to the Lord.

Also, in this particular season of Lent, I am aware there are trials and temptations coming (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2847).  The trials and temptations will be greater than in times past; some may lead to both practical and spiritual suffering.  One does not have to look far to see the decline in society.  Moreover, it is not difficult to see the effort put forth to capture and constrain our Catholic identity (Revision of HHS mandate ignores religious liberty concerns, say bishops, 2012).  It appears to me, continue on this course, we inevitably are headed down a path that leads to religious intolerance we thought common abroad (Rome Reports, Lists of countries who threat religious freedom, 2011; World Watch List 2011).

The essence of Lent can be found in baptism and what comes to mind is the significance of the vows associated with our baptism.  Never before have our vows meant so much.  Yes, this morning's Mass was quite different.  Given the circumstance in our culture, I have no intention of giving up my faith for Lent.  The most important thing I can give up is passivity and not yield to its temptation, especially as our bishops (Bishops Vow to Fight HHS Edict, 2012), priests (Priest for Life: Call to Action, 2012) and brothers and sisters everywhere (Stop HHS Mandate, 2012) take up the commitment to defend the faith (The New Evangelization).

As a Catholic parent, I have a job to do and that is to educate and empower my children to live their faith and participate in the Church's mission (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2246).  Moreover, I have a responsibility to my community (Vatican calls for more lay participation in politics, 2010).  During this season of Lent, I pray the good Lord will provide the insight and strength needed for a steadfast commitment to fight the good fight.  During this season of Lent, what is your prayer?  What will you give up?

Conservative Political Action Conference:
Panel on Faith in Politics (Jordan Sekulow, 2012)

Religious Liberty: Obamacare's
First Casualty (Heritage Foundation, 2012)

Rev. 03.13.2012