Wednesday, April 1, 2009

From Grave to Grace

Maybe there are some people who are no longer surprised by the Catholic faith. Maybe the Church Calendar has become almost as familiar as the floor plan of their home. They can pass through Lent – or any other liturgical season – like they would the halls of their house in the middle of the night and not bump into any surprises.

Maybe I just haven’t been Catholic long enough for that to be the case with me. The surprises just keep coming.

The first year I went through Lent, I made it through without too much difficulty. I think I gave up soda. It was a sacrifice, but I must admit, it didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice.

The next year, I gave up coffee. Once I adjusted to life without caffeine, it was all rather easy. The forty days came and went.

But the year after that was completely different. On Ash Wednesday of that third Lent, I decided to give God something that I had clung to for a very long time. Twenty-five years, actually. Three weeks into Lent, I completely failed.

I remember entering the confessional just before Good Friday with such a heavy heart. I felt like an absolute failure. Jesus Christ had come to earth, he had died for me, he had risen for me, and I couldn’t even keep a 40-day promise! It felt like I had flunked Lent.

And I was about to receive my report card.

Since the priest can’t talk about what happened that day, I will take it upon myself to give you a little glimpse into that moment – because it was absolutely wonderful. The priest told me that Lent had done precisely what it was supposed to do. Jesus Christ had led me into the tomb. That’s where I found my own burial clothes, the culmination of human weakness and sin. And through the priest, Our Lord was telling me that he still wanted to claim me for his own. His redemption could encompass even my most entrenched habits. His grace would be sufficient enough to overcome my weakness.

Today. Next month. And every time I turned to Christ for help.

It wasn’t about soda or my ability to lay it down. It wasn’t about caffeine or my victory over that little pleasure. It was about my insufficiency and Christ’s complete sufficiency.

It was about coming to the end of myself and finding God’s forgiveness all over again.

Here’s another amazing thing. You know that difficulty, that habit I couldn’t seem to give up? At some point in these last two years, it lost its grip on me. A surprise? Well, it was for me, but it shouldn’t have been. In Ezekiel The Lord says, “You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live. . .” (38:13-14).

May Our Lord lead you from the grave to grace during this Lenten season, and may the renewing of our hearts and minds be a witness throughout the world. Our God turns the grave into a moment of grace.


No comments:

Post a Comment