By Fr. Michael Sliney, LC
“Got milk?” was a very successful television ad many years ago, showing satisfied, happy faces after drinking milk and flooding the screen with all of the nutritional advantages as well. The Catholic Church should consider doing an ad, “Got Grace?” Our worn down souls have a huge need for God’s grace and Lent is a great time to develop a healthy dependency on it.
Nearly two years ago, I ran in the Hartford Marathon with two of my brother priests. Besides the practical advantage of getting back into shape and checking it off my bucket list, I thought it would help me better understand what it means to persevere in an endeavor that requires serious commitment and determination.
Several avid runners told me that I needed to buy a large supply of GU energy gels for my training and more importantly for the race itself. I resisted their urging until my body completely shut down near the end of a 16-mile training session…I think the 90-degree heat may have contributed to this breakdown! On the day of the race, I had five GU packets stuffed in my pockets and systematically brought them out after the 4,8,12,16 and 20 mile markers…and I was extremely grateful for a gentleman on a bicycle who was handing out additional packets from mile 20-26.2…I had another 2 more!
Persevering in Lent is similar to persevering in a marathon. Ash Wednesday is like the beginning of the race…lots of enthusiasm; focus, excitement and great hopes are at the starting line. Everyone has their resolution in mind, but as Lent drags on, some start to get tired, pull spiritual muscles or simply want out…perhaps the spiritual “GU” is missing from their daily regiment? It also helped me, especially on mile 23, to remember that there was a finish line, that the fans were waiting and there would be a moment to celebrate with my brother priests. Easter is just around the corner…stay strong!
Visit Jesus in the Eucharist! Don’t worry about what you are going to say, don’t worry if you hear anything or feel anything, don’t worry about all the other things you could be doing during this time. Make space to allow Jesus to love you! Go to Confession! Like a boxer going into the corner when the bell rings, we all need to leave the ring and get patched up by our trainer, the Holy Spirit. As the GU gel replenishes the body, Jesus will nourish your tired soul and give you the spiritual protein needed to continue on your transformational journey to holiness. Please, “waste time” with Jesus- you will never leave disappointed!