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Lent and the Jersey Shore

Ah yes, The Jersey Shore, why we love it so….. The sand beaches, the sunshine, the ocean water, swimming and playing in the waves, Mack and Mancos pizza (Personally, I can do without Snooki and her friends)

But what happens when we get too much of a good thing like too much water or too much sun? You get floods and deserts and “The Great Flood” and Jesus in the desert are two images of Lent that we see in the readings for the First Sunday of Lent.

If you stay under WATER for any length of time…

  • You can’t speak.
  • You can’t breathe.
  • You can move.
  • You can hear, somewhat.
  • You can see, somewhat.
  • Drink? You can drink ALL that you want!

Stay in the DESERT for a length of time and…

  • You can see.
  • You can move, but only for a time and with difficulty.
  • You can breathe.
  • You can speak.
  • You can hear.
  • But you DON’T get a drink.

Some of the classical themes of Lent are repentance, turning around, changing direction, going in a new and better way.

  • The REASON is to develop a deeper relationship with the Trinity.
  • The GOAL is charity. To not only become more loving but, perhaps more importantly, to be more LOVED.
  • The CHALLENGE is:
    • To get to a place where we feel worth of that love,
    • To recognize that love when it is offered,
    • To accept it and appropriate it in our lives.

And sometimes God uses floods and deserts as a means to get us where he wants us to be during Lent.  This happens when whatever healing needed in our lives is accomplished.  So besides repentance, turning around, changing direction, going in a new a better way, we are called to let this healing begin.

In his book, The 5 Love Languages author Gary Chapman mentions five ways that people liked to be loved. They are:

  • Words (of affection)
  • Time (simply spent with the loved one)
  • Gifts
  • Help (like with chores around the house)
  • Touch

After 30 years of counseling couples, he found that each of us seems to have ONE of the 5 “love languages” that we prefer more strongly than the others.

An example… I remember a story about a couple who was seen in a restaurant. The sunglasses and the red-and-white cane indicated that the man was blind. What was striking was that through the entire dinner, the couple held hands. Even while eating, they seemed to have mastered the dexterity to maneuver the forks while not letting go of the other person.  He could not see her and he could certainly hear her voice but touch seemed to be the “love language” of one of the partners that was so important.

So, back to the Lenten images… Ask yourself some questions concerning Lent both now and throughout the season:

First question – Are you in a desert? Does your spiritual life seem dry, void and lifeless? Are you just aching to drink from the well of the Lord’s compassion and consolation? Or do you feel underwater in the midst of the flood? Are you feeling simply overwhelmed by what is happening in the world around you? Are you drowning in events and desperately trying to get above everything just so that you can breathe?

Next question – You are there for a reason. What is the reason why God has you there?

Last question – Remember the five “Love languages?” In which of the 5 love languages is God speaking to you?

  • Words ..from Scripture or Mass or a song offering consolation, explanation or encouragement?)
  • Time (Suddenly appointments are cancelled, the calendar is opened and you have some quiet time to spend with the Lord)
  • Gifts (Parking spot RIGHT IN FRONT of the storefront door on a rainy day? Package from a friend you didn’t expect?)
  • Help (Someone makes an offer to assist when you least expect it and need it the most?)
  • Touch (A spontaneous hug from that special person? A “spiritual touch” from above?)

Coincidence? “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.” (Attributed to Albert Einstein)

 

 

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