Happy St Patrick’s Day! Remember 2 years ago when it fell on a Friday in Lent? What to do? What a crisis of epic proportion? How did the Irish, and the wanna-be-Irish survive without corned-beef ? Is my Irishness more important than my Catholicness??? Wait….. Our Orange-Loving-Pastor is Irish? One eighth in the blood! One of my great grandmothers was Delia Daggett born in county Meath. So out of respect for St. Patrick, my ancestors, and for all the beloved Irish in our parish: no orange clothes for me today!!
But back to the Friday St. Patrick crisis of 2017: well, our Bishop has stepped in to let us off the hook, letting us choose another day that week to abstain from meat. Because the law of abstaining from meat is an ecclesiastical law, it can be lifted by the competent authority (the Bishop, and in some cases by me!) However, we do we fidelity and obedience to ecclesiastical law. Why? Well, these are the rules of our family. Every family has its rules, so that the family runs smoothly, and directed to the purpose for which it exists. Church law serves the same function, protecting our rights, and imposing obligations designed to help us get to heaven.
Which brings me to the Lenten discipline of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. All three are critical for our living the gospel. It is not sufficient to say I am just doing one or the other. Why? Because each part corresponds to a part of the Gospel call of conversion. We are called to renounce sin (fasting helps here to get our appetites under control), love God (prayer is rooted in this love and feeds it) and love our neighbor (our positive acts of kindness and charityflesh this out). If we say that we are loving God without rooting out sin, then we are sorely deceiving ourselves. If we embrace great penances, but fail to love our neighbor, then we are not following through on the Gospel. All three are necessary for living the Gospel, not just during Lent, but especially during this time when we focus on our spiritual lives. We face the reality of our lives and sin, and turn to God. This is the act of ongoing conversion that we should be undertaking every day of our lives.
Anyway, enjoy your green beer today (unless you gave it up for Lent)!
pax et bonum,