To Procrastinate is defined by the Webster Dictionary as, “To put off intentionally and habitually.” Would that definition apply to anyone here?! Of course, most of us would have to say “Yes” to this, even if we are be people who handle things quickly and efficiently.
I can certain procrastinate. It usually involves something that I need to do, but I am not eager to do! Maybe I need to return a phone call to someone and I am sensing it will be a difficult conversation. Or, it might involve doing something that involves a clear decision.
As a priest, I have usually had a spiritual director. This has been another priest with whom I would meet monthly to discuss what was going on in my life and also the sacrament of confession. My most recent spiritual director was Fr. Noah Casey, the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes until his death last July. For these past eight months I have been thinking about who I would ask…and I procrastinated and procrastinated. What finally got me to make the move? Lent! I made a Lenten Promise that I would find a new spiritual director!! And I think I have succeeded.
Lent is meant to get us off the dime. We all have our regular things that we give up or try to accomplish each Lent, but I hope we also use the season as an opportunity to “Light a fire under us,” or “Get off the dime!” This year, we are also celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy during which the Holy Father is asking us to be a more merciful people. Mercy…what does it mean? How does it apply in my life? Maybe Lent will help us initiate the gift of mercy.
First, we know what mercy feels like, both from God and others. Mercy is when we do not demand justice, but we give where it is not deserved. Mercy involves puting ourselves deeply into the lives of another person, so that we truly try to walk in their shoes and feel with their heart.
Have you ever been forgiven by God, not simply of little things, but of something big? Have you ever walked out of confession, so relieved, so at peace that you simply felt deep gratitude to God? Being merciful, flows from knowing mercy for God and others.
Have you ever really screwed up, but you did not receive the punishment that you deserved? Mercy. Have you ever received a gift, material or spiritual, that was given, not because we deserved it, but because someone wanted to be generous? Mercy.
Mercy is the decision to help someone who cannot help you back; it is an action of love.
My friends, I invite each of you to allow Lent to get you off the dime! In the Catholic Church we speak of the Corporal Works of Mercy which flow from the Last Judgment scene in Matthew 25, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy. I would like to challenge each one of us to do one or more of these during Lent. And as with all good Lenten Intentions, it helps if we write it down.
CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY
To Feed the Hungry
To Give Drink to the Thirsty
To Clothe the Naked
To Shelter the Homeless
To Care for the Sick
To Visit the Imprisoned
To Bury the Dead
SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY
To Convert the Sinners
To Instruct the Ignorant
To Advise the Doubtful
To Comfort the Sorrowful
To Bear Wrongs Patiently
To Forgive Injuries
To Pray for the Living and the Dead
Now, as the ushers pass out paper and pens, I invite you to write down what acts of mercy you are willing to do this Lent. Lent it down and place it in the collection basket; or if you want come to the baptistery after Mass and tape it to the cross.