To Keep a True Lent

To Keep a True Lent
by Robert Herrick

Is this a Fast, to keep
      the larder lean?
            and clean
from fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
      of flesh, yet still
            to fill
the platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,
      or ragged to go,
            or show
a down-cast look and sour?

No: ‘tis a Fast to dole
      thy sheaf of wheat
            and meat
unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife
      and old debate,
            and hate;
to circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;
      to starve thy sin,
            not bin;
and that’s to keep thy Lent.

There is Power in Suffering

Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5:00 PM; Sunday 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM
Focus: There is power in suffering.
Function: Offer your suffering to Jesus.


Job laments.

He laments because he suffers.

He cannot see the reason for his suffering. He does not understand it. He cannot see where God is in it. He begins to lose hope. “I shall not see happiness again.”

Suffering makes us feel that way.

Peter’s mother-in-law will not rise from where she lies when Jesus enters the house.
Her energy is gone.
She has begun to despair.  

Jesus enters.  They tell him about her.  He takes her hand.  The suffering leaves.

The whole town gathers at the door.

So many people suffering.
So many, like Job.
So many, like Peter’s mother-in-law.
So many, tempted to despair but now filled with hope.  Filled with hope because they have heard of Jesus.  Everyone is looking for him.

They find him.
They touch him.

Hope is restored.  The suffering leaves.  

Where does it go? Jesus takes it.

He bears it for them.  

Good for them.

What about us?

What about those who face chronic pain, 
who have gathered at the door of the house where Jesus is staying 
and have knocked with our prayers, 
only to be met by seeming silence?

What about those of us who, 
like Peter and Andrew, 
have immediately brought the suffering 
of our mother-in-law or father or uncle or cousin or child 
to the attention of Jesus 
only to wait and wonder 
if or when 
he will hear and respond?

Like Job, we lament.
Like Job, we suffer.

Last summer, I visited a man who suffers from chronic pain.  He cannot eat or drink anything.  He receives all his nourishment by a feeding tube.  He longs to receive the Eucharist, to come to Mass.  He cannot.  He longs to give of himself, to have a purpose.

Like Job, he laments.

He told me, “I want to give, but I have nothing to give.”

Of course, he does have something to give.

As a member of the Body of Christ, when he suffers, Christ suffers.  And Christ’s suffering redeemed the world.  Christ’s suffering is made present in our time through the suffering of our brothers and sisters.

I asked him if he would give his suffering to Jesus, if he would offer it to him, and ask him to give us the priests we need for the future of our diocese.  

His face lit up.  “Oh, I can do that!”

I gave him the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.  The sacrament gives one the power to bear his sufferings with the grace and strength of Christ.  

I anointed his hands, 
the hands that he used to work with, 
the hands that would now be used to carry his cross,
the hands that would be raised in prayer,
the hands that would be held out in offering, 
offering his suffering to Jesus, imploring him for the priests that we need.

We had our vocation camp 2 weeks later.  A monthly discernment group grew out of it.  Two men in the discernment group are applying for the seminary next year.

Jesus was present in his suffering.

Where Jesus is present, miracles happen.
Where Jesus is present, hope is restored.

There is power in the wounds of Christ.

You and I have been joined to him.
We are members of his Body.
Our wounds are his wounds.
When we suffer, the Body of Christ suffers.  Christ suffers and the drama of redemption continues to unfold.  

There is power in the wounds of Christ.

The blood that washed away our sins flowed from pierced, wounded hands.

His blood flows through us
and when we suffer, it flows out of us through our wounds,
our wounds which are his wounds.

Offer him your wounds.

The price for souls was paid by the suffering of Christ.
His suffering continues today.

When you suffer, Christ has not abandoned you.  
He is living in you.  
He is still suffering to redeem the world.  
He is still shouldering his Cross, through you.
You are a partner in the work of salvation.

Each person, in his/her suffering, 
can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ.

Can we, like him, stretch out our hands as we endure our passion so He can break the bonds of death and manifest the resurrection?

As we celebrate the memorial of the saving Passion of the Son, can we offer in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice?

Can we say to him the words that he will soon say to us: “This is my body, given up for you?”