Who’s Driving Your Vehicle?
Lent is the time to take back the wheel of our soul from our animal desires…
Last night as I reflected on the Mass readings for today (Tuesday), I was struck by both the Introit verse and the prayer. The Introit verse from Psalm 89 declares the majesty and power of God, but also our trust in Him:
Lord, you have been our refuge through all generations; from everlasting to everlasting You are. Before the mountains were begotten and the earth and the world were brought forth, from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.Psalm 89
And then the prayer that follows:
Look down, O Lord, upon Your household, and grant that our minds, chastened by the mortification of the flesh, may shine before You with desire for You.
As I read this prayer, it occurred to me that when we fast from food…when we “mortify” our flesh…it really does help our minds and our souls to SHINE before God, and to DESIRE Him! When we allow ourselves to cease the struggle against the flesh, our spirit is quickly squelched…and prayer becomes difficult and dry.
As I thought about this truth, a funny image came to my mind. Do you remember the Muppet “Animal”? He was that wild, crazy-haired puppet that was totally uncontrollable. I imagined that when I let myself give into my fleshly appetites of food and drink too often, my soul is like a vehicle being driven by this crazed maniac. I don’t know about you…but he is NOT who I want steering my life!
During Lent, we are faced with the fact that we are all made up of two opposite and opposing forces: the spirit and the flesh. The struggle of our lives is really all about conquering one or the other. One of the two is going to end up winning the battle in the end. They both can’t win. The part of us that NATURALLY longs for God is spiritual, our soul. The part of us that rebels against anything spiritual is our flesh. When I fast and otherwise mortify my flesh…this “animal” is “tied up” and under control, which “frees” my soul so that it is able to fly to God.
After the holidays, I was discouraged at how spiritually weak I had become from indulging in food and alcohol. My personality is pretty straightforward and regimented, so I still maintained my daily prayer routine…but it was a dutiful and dry time before the Lord. I kept making resolutions not to give into food and drink cravings, but every day I would succumb to my desires. It seemed that I had no resolve and no will power. It wasn’t until the Lord helped me to recognize the terrible price that He paid to wipe away my past sins…and the continuing repercussions that my family still suffers to this day from our divorces…that I was finally able to fast from food willingly and gratefully.
I love it when God reminds me of the price that He paid for me. It makes me cry happy tears, and it motivates me to be more intentional in loving Him. If I had never sinned in such magnificent fashion, I would be more likely to become lukewarm in my faith. I wonder why so many people are afraid to face the fact that they are sinners? For instance, I was at a funeral this past Sunday where a man got up and sung “Amazing Grace,” which was great, but when he got to the line, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”….he changed the word “wretch” to “person”!
I just don’t understand why people want to deny sin. It is GOOD to be reminded of our sins, so that we can be grateful for our salvation through God’s mercy! Once we understand how precious our salvation is, we receive the extra benefit of actually DESIRING to suffer little privations for love of God, who, as the Psalm quoted above proclaims…is everlasting to everlasting! Almighty and all powerful…and all loving at the same time!
I saw this rosary hanging from a garbage dumpster a few weeks ago. It was wedged between the metal of the rim, and so was saved from being dumped into the garbage truck. I noticed it hanging there because of the bright color of the beads, and so I rescued it…filthy as it was. I took it home and washed it with soapy water, as best as I could. You can see that there are still some places that didn’t come clean, but I like praying with it now because it reminds me of how God rescued me and cleaned me up. Like this rosary, there are still little areas of my soul that retain some of the dirt from my upbringing and the culture that I grew up in…but with each prayer the dirt is slowly but surely being wiped away. It…like me…has been redeemed.
Lent is the time to remember our sins and to trust in God’s mercy. It is the time to “rend our hearts, not our garments.” It is time to take back the wheel of our soul from our animal desires. For these 40 days, let us mount the unruly beast of our appetites and desires so that our intellect can take over the reigns of our souls…that we may fly to God.
Sign up for our 40 Days for Life fast HERE: There are still some spots that are not taken yet. Our goal is to have at least three people fasting every day for the forty days. Join us if you can!
Now, on to the vigil reports from today…
7-9 am – Cathy & Mark
Mark, Mary and I were joined by Fr. Jason and two of his parishioners from Holy Trinity, Marybeth and Jonathan. Their parish will be coming all day! Thank you! Foot traffic was fairly light, with a couple of thank you’s sent our way. Two women went in, one accompanied by a friend, the other alone, though someone went in later, possibly meeting her there? One took a flyer from Mark.Cathy
9-11 am – Elsie & Linda
A lot of single women entered PP. No couples. Does this mean no surgical abortions were performed this morning? What about the abortion pill?Linda
We were joined by prayer warriors from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church (Fr. Jason, Patty and Peter,) Carlos from St. Michael the Archangel Parish and Dan from Steubenville.
11am – 1pm – Terri & Katie
Katie and I were again blessed with support from the parishioners from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Church. They had signed up for the entire day with members coming and going for different shifts. Peter and Craig prayed quietly in front of PP. Father Jason rejoined the group again during our shift. The weather was a big improvement from the pouring rain of last Wednesday, but it is always dismal in front of those doors. There were some going and coming from inside. They weren’t talking much, but a few did take the information that was offered to them. A bright spot was when a young woman asked for 2 pregnancy tests for herself. She and Katie spoke for a bit before she left. She was told that someone is always on the sidewalk and to come back if she wants to talk. Another passerby also asked for one. A bright spot was when a man driving by pulled over and thanked Peter for being there.Terri
1-3pm – Judy Z & Katie:
The 1-3 shift seemed less eventful than earlier on in the day, but unfortunately there were still plenty of women going into PP, at least in the earlier part of the shift. But it was great to be on the sunny sidewalk with Fr. Jason, Peter, Bernie, Dottie, Marc and Linda from Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church, as well as Emiliana, Ben, Marino, Ceci, John Paul, Daniel, Julian and Joseph, all high school students from Steubenville (one of whom is also a HTUCC parishioner!) It was wonderful to see so many teenagers giving up a sunny afternoon (all on their own, mind you, with no parents dragging them along) to pray in the place where prayers are needed most! Don’t lose hope for the new generation!Katie
3-5pm – Eileen, Larry & Steve
We started our shift with eight fine students from Catholic Central High School in Steubenville who were off for the day. We had Eileen, Steve, and Barbara at our shift. Barbara was telling us about a save she had, after a rocky start with 40 Days for Life caused by the group that used a megaphone to harass women coming to Planned Parenthood. There were several women coming out of Planned Parenthood with packages, possibly abortion pills. We had another woman leave and put her middle finger in our faces, and we said a special prayer for her. We did have several positive comments. Thank you and God bless!Larry