Bon Mardi Gras!
So tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent which means today is Mardi Gras (exact translation: Fat Tuesday). Celebrating Mardi Gras for Catholics is more than just a party, it is a day in which we should all reflect on and determine what sacrifices we will be making this Lent. While thinking about Lent, I remembered our 40 Post challenge from last year and how much has changed since then (I started slacking on the posting A LOT!). This past winter I was a part of a Young Adult Book Club at my church and we read Blessed Are The Bored In Spirit by Mark Hart. One of the chapters asked the questions “When have you been courageous in your faith this year?” and “In what ways have you personally answered the call to act from your heart?” I had begun a response, but never finished it and now feel it is relevant to post today.
This past year has been such a wonderful year of my life. Last Lent I began attending daily mass, a choice that changed my faith life for the better. This was a courageous choice for me because I had tried to do it the previous year and was disappointed by something that happened. What had happened really put me off from attending mass at my church and so I stopped going during the week. When I made the decision to go again, God graced me with patience and love for others and enabled me to make daily mass a part of my life. By going to mass daily, I began giving more over to God and growing in my faith life. I met so many wonderful people and made quite a few new friends who are such an inspiration to me for my faith to grow and prosper as theirs has. Additionally, it has helped me to make decisions in my life separate from just in church and gave me the courage to make another decision regarding my faith life. I soon signed up to start reading at mass, something that scared me terribly. Public speaking has always been a fear of mine, but I was feeling called to help out in another way. Soon after I signed up, I was approached by a friend of mine at daily mass and asked to read during the week. I began reading on Tuesdays every week and about two Sundays a quarter. Although I was still a little anxious about reading on Sundays, on December 23rd I read and was told that I no longer seemed nervous at all. I also felt a lot less nervous.
Another way I think I have been courageous in my faith this year is through my young adult ministry – LIFT (Living In Faith Together). We officially formed the group over the past summer and have met pretty much once a week since then. In the fall we began a Bible Study and I was asked to lead it. Although I had never done a Bible Study before and didn’t really know what to expect, no one else really wanted the role and I felt it was an important activity to take part in. The program flows pretty easily and it is more of a facilitation role, but the study and reading of the Bible has really helped me to grow and understand more about the roots of my faith. Although we’re not even through Genesis (I know, it’s a little drawn out), the depth of the study is such that the points that are made are ingrained in my mind.
Being called to facilitate and to read are both really awesome ways in which my faith life has grown, but something that I really value that God gave me this year is my Religious Education class. Once a month I get to teach 6th graders religious ed through a program my church calls “Becoming Disciples”. This program is family-integrated, which means they have three home lessons and one in-class lesson a month. The kids that I get to teach are such a wonderful group and I enjoy every class I have with them. More often than not we run out of time because there is so much I want to discuss. The real blessing in teaching this program though, is that I get to relearn so many things and relate my own experiences to them as well as listen to the experiences of my 6th graders. They are so talkative, but many of them show such an understanding and love for the Word and ask such wonderful questions! What I am now looking forward to is helping revamp the 7th and 8th grade program with a friend of mine and continuing to teach next year 🙂 Teaching this class has been something I look forward to and get so excited in preparing for it that I almost feel as if it’s for me and not them.
This upcoming Lent, I look forward to letting more go to God and renewing my faith through sacrifice and service to attempt to become closer to Christ in His rising again. I will try and post more this Lent since Lent is my time for reflection and what better way to reflect then to write about it. If you so choose, maybe you can answer these questions this Lent. They really helped me look back and see the good in my life (I am not going to bore you with all of it, I just wrote a short novel up there) and understand and respect how far I have come this year. I’ll leave the questions for you again down here:
When have you been courageous in your faith this year?
In what ways have you personally answered the call to act from your heart?
God Bless, *JuLi*