For me, this Lent has flown by. As Holy Week approaches, it seems that Ash Wednesday has only just ended, and all the possibilities for growth in Christ through this holy season were in front of me. Yet here I am almost at the end of it all. My Lenten goal to pray the Liturgy of the Hours twice a day has been scantily applied some weeks, and remained almost non-existent during others. My promise to abstain from smart phone and iPad games is going well, but I think it is more a product of a busy work schedule than any intentional fasting on my part.
I don’t mean to be overly self-critical, but the readings this past Sunday really struck a chord with me. We heard all about death and resurrection, and Fr. Liam’s homily asked the pointed question, “What do you believe?” Now, I work at a Catholic school, teach Confirmation at a parish, write for this blog, and hold a masters degree in Theology. I should have a pretty good idea about what I believe.
However, as Fr. Liam asked that question at mass my stomach turned into knots. Do I believe in the resurrection? Did Jesus save us? Will there really be life after death? In the days that have passed since that homily I have been wrestling again with these fundamental questions of our faith. In my darker moments I thought about how fast this past month has gone, and how few times I had stopped to see and breathe in the beauty that each day brings. I thought about how precious each day of life is and how many hours I have wasted playing a computer game or recovering from a hang over, and how eventually, all the days of my life will be gone.
After those dark thoughts, however, I began to recall the times in my life when God was particularly present to me: during my college freshman retreat, in Adoration, in the faces of the poor in Jamaica, in the beauty of nature, in my family and friends, and in many other places and people throughout my life. I finally remembered what led me to believe in the first place: my encounter with the risen Christ. But as I came out of the bleakness of my doubt, one thing still remained: the preciousness of living life.
Each day of our lives is filled with the beauty and the challenge of realizing God’s Kingdom, of experiencing and encountering Christ in the day-to-day. Regardless of the eternity of life with Christ that awaits us in the world to come, to cherish the present, the today, is an incredibly important part of what it means to be Catholic. This, I realized, is why I felt so bad about my failure to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Pray centers us. It tells us to STOP!, and be present to Christ in the here and now. Prayer helps us to savor the now and thank God for the day. I have a week and a half left until Easter. I have not been very good at stopping and being present to God each day. But, there is still time left. There is still time to notice the gifts and challenges of each day, and there is still time to live my life one day at a time.