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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Today I had two thoughts that struck me in the way that made me realize I was meant to share them.

Thought number one, Christian means Christ like. We all in the Christian community should know this, but I rarely think about it more than briefly. But what this really means to me, suddenly, is that millions of people all around the world call themselves Christian. They are not labeled Christian by someone else, but instead it is a name and identity they choose for themselves. And that thought suddenly struck me as beautiful, so beautiful that it moved me to tears. All around the world, and all around me, there are people struggling to be Christ like. They may have a religion different than mine, or no religion at all. They may think about their Christianity often or not very often at all, but the truth is they are trying. We as humans are a broken and sinful people, yet there are millions and maybe billions of people who struggle to rise above the general human sinful nature and be more like Christ, in their own way. I would like to be reminded of this more often, especially if ever tempted to think that Catholics are better Christians or some other such falsehood. Because each and every person who declares themselves Christian and follows Christ as their example is beautiful.

Thought number two might sound a bit strange right off so let me give some background. I am a chicken. I usually duck instead of catching things, flinch at the smallest hint of something possibly hitting me, and when I can't avoid my pain dwell on it as if it is killing me. The saying 'carry our own cross' never meant pain to me, I figured it was mostly a metaphor for the other troubles in our lives. So today at mass, I thought about Jesus up there on the cross, and I thought maybe He was able to bear all that pain a little bit easier knowing that it would help Him get to heaven with his Father. And if I intend to be Christ like, why can't I do the same thing? This may not be a new idea to someone else, but I thought, every time I am in pain, I just need to remind myself that it can help me get to heaven. How does pain help me get to heaven? It teaches me strength, tolerance, humility, understanding of others, and a score of other awesome virtues that I can't get as much of if I just dwell on how much it hurts. In fact, dwelling on pain in a negative manner does not help me in the slightest, and might even hurt me more if I convince myself that I am in enough pain that I can't do a certain activity. I hope to focus more on heaven and less on how much it hurts now when I am in pain. It seems to be easy for small pains, like my knees hurting from kneeling at church or my back feeling sore from sitting all day. I pray that I may be strong enough in my resolve to carry my cross when the bigger pains come.

I hope to focus on these two thoughts throughout Lent and beyond, to reach my goal of becoming more Christ like both in my acknowledgement of the beauty of other people and in my resolve to carry my cross, wether troubles or pain. I hope that by sharing these personal thoughts I have helped you in some small way. Thank you for taking the time to step into my shoes.