With Lent fast approaching, we need to draw our sights towards this new liturgical season. But what are we supposed to be doing in Lent that is different from the rest of the year? Lent can be a time to throw off the things in our lives that have been weighing us down and preventing us from giving our Lord and Savior his due Praise and Glory. What is holding you back? What can you let go of that has been keeping you from loving your God, your spouse, your kids? Do you spend a lot of time watching TV? Do you spend your time or money at endeavors that you could be better spending as a good Catholic Man, Husband, Father?
I have noticed over the years how often it seems that people can go through life with their faces in a screen somewhere. It’s been one of my biggest time/money wasters. I have to check my phone regularly to see the weather network app, the latest update from the CBC news app, check how many ‘likes’ my latest post on Facebook or Twitter just got. For the longest while, I would sit in my La-Z-Boy with my laptop on my lap while the family watched a movie or a show on TV. I was there with them, wasn’t I? Only after several years of that did I realize I was in fact so far from my family, even while I was in the same room that I didn’t see how much I was missing. I was two screens away from everybody, the TV and my laptop. The TV was doing a pretty good job of separating us all from each other but that at least would have been a shared experience even though we were not really communicating. Alas, I was only half sharing in that as I sat there playing my “Castle game” as I called it. Building an army, defending and attacking other players, joining in a league and growing our ‘community’. What a waste. All that time and effort into something that was damaging my real community, my family.
A few weeks ago, I started on a new Journey called Exodus 90. The goal of this journey is to help us develop new habits, ones that are free from the burdens that have been holding us back. You may have heard of some of them, cold showers, no alcohol, no snacks between meals. Pfft. Those are easy things. The real challenge is giving up my screens and even more than that, trying to develop a habit of prayer that builds me spiritually into the Catholic Gentleman, Father, Christian, I should be. Since giving up my screens, Cynthia and I have spent hours talking, sharing, praying and playing together in the past few weeks. We have gone out on dates, had celebrations, laughed and cried tears both of joy and frustration. I have never felt closer to my wife and children now than at any time I can remember in the past many long years. I have fallen in Love with Cynthia all over again. Instead of sitting together in the living room, watching the latest episode of whatever show we were following, we are sharing our lives with each other again. I have learned new things about my wife these past weeks and after almost 28 years of marriage, it was surprising and thrilling to find out how much more there is to learn about her.
Gentlemen, you don’t have to do “Exodus 90” or any other particular program but you do need to make some changes in your lives. We all do. My Lenten journey really began a month ago and I will graduate at Easter as a free man, no longer burdened by as many things in my life, more able to live and love as God meant me to do. You too can grow this Lent. We are quite familiar with the concept and are familiar with the question “What are you giving up for lent?”. But it’s not about what you’re giving up for Lent. It’s about what is holding you a slave and preventing you from being free to be the Catholic, Christian Man. You can. You may know what it is now that is enslaving you, or you may need some time in prayer; honest, soul-searching prayer, to discern what these things are. Make a vow now to give them up, not for lent, but for God, for your wife, for life. And don’t just give up these things. Replace them, with prayer, play, family, service to Church and each other.
May God Bless you all this coming season!