What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?

(by Fr. Robert Hermley OSFS)

A song of some years ago asked the question, “What are you doing for the rest of your life?” Another questioned, “Do you know where you're going to?” These are very important questions we can ask ourselves as the holy season of Lent begins.

Lent is a perfect time to stop momentarily and ask ourselves, “Do I like what I see in myself? Do I need to change the direction of my life? Am I on the right track? Am I really trying to be a good son or daughter of God?”

Lent is a kind of spiritual retreat. Large stores take inventory from time to time to see what sells and what doesn't. Men and women get physical exams from time to time to prevent health problems. Car owners practice preventive maintenance so that small problems do not become large ones.

So too in the spiritual life we need a checkup from time to time. We can do this through a retreat, but we can also do it through good practices during Lent. The Church's psychology behind Lent is simple but very important. -we can't always have what we want, so let's practice giving up even good things for a time.

Giving up a dessert, doing things promptly instead of putting them off, avoiding occasions of sin. all of these teach us that instant gratification hurts us. Instant gratification demands more and more until our lower nature smothers all spiritual survival.

We see this in every day life. Instead of reminding our young that safe sex can only be assured in marriage, the world equivocates. If one keeps the Sixth Commandment, one does not have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases. Say that and you will be accused of being judgmental!

The world blames the Pope and the Church as if the Holy Father made up chastity and purity himself. The Holy Father is only teaching what the Church has taught for centuries. He reiterates God's Commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Those who do not like the commandments should talk to God about it. Don't blame the Church. Let them blame themselves for not getting the lower nature under control.

That brings us back to the purpose of Lent. Lent helps us to practice self-denial in order to say to Satan what Christ Himself said, “Be gone, Satan.”

During Lent the Church asks us to practice penance, practice self-denial. Families could show more respect for one another in Lent. Children could obey promptly, instead of having parents tell them over and over to put out the trash, wash up, go to bed on time, do your homework. Doing things you are told right away can be one of the very best penances. And how about not fighting with brothers and sisters? What a quiet and serene household that would bring about.

Husbands could tell wives how much they appreciate them during Lent. Wives could return such compliments. What a loving household that would be. There is a scene in “Fiddler on the Roof” in which Tevye asks his wife, “Do you love me?” She answers, “I married you, didn't I?” “But do you love me?” he asks. “I had children by you,” she continues. “But do you love me?” he asks again. Could husbands and wives use Lent again to draw closer to each other and to God? This Lent let the compliments begin.

Finally, instead of waiting until Holy Week for Confession, let us go to Confession early in Lent to get rid of all that's wrong with us. Then we can use the rest of Lent to make up to God. If we do, this will be a new beginning. You will like what life is showing you, you'll know where you're going, and you will welcome the guidance of the Church.

So, what are you doing with the rest of your life?

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