By Nimmi Candappa
A colleague at a previous workplace said, not unkindly, to a couple of friends and myself, eyeing the ash on our foreheads after a lunchtime Mass one Ash Wednesday, “we know who the Catholics are”. Were it not for the ash on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, or the Cross around our neck, or our order of fish and chips on a Friday, would people know us to be Catholics, simply by our behaviour? What would this behaviour look like?
Having had Ash recently smudged on our foreheads, the series of Charism Corners during Lent will explore how Lent can help us as a Mazenodian Family ‘become’ our Catholic beliefs.
We are well aware that, for all his holiness, St Eugene did not mince his words. Much of this stemmed from his determination to live an authentic faith. At one point, he identifies three aspects for growing in faith, as he encourages those within his responsibility to “attain the perfection of your vocation”. He reminds them to “consider only God” in their behaviour and approach; to be of “one will for the good” of the community; and to “carry each other’s burdens”.
“Consider only God”, our focus for this fortnight, taps into the Bible verse, Matt 6:33: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (and all these things shall be added unto you)”. Imagine shooting an archery arrow – squinting one eye so you can focus better on the target. Concentrating fully, we have one aim at that moment – to get the arrow as close to the bullseye. We do not need to worry about what happens when we release the arrow, we simply need to focus on the target and shoot the arrow. Keeping our eye on God, considering God, allows our life, our actions, like the arrow, to head in the direction we look.
Consider only God- and we let slide the unkind comment a neighbour makes. Consider only God – and we turn off our favourite TV program and sit for a bit with God. Consider only God – and we make decisions in life while considering the effects of the decisions on those around us: family, neighbour, country, environment. Consider only God – and we allow God to have a dip into our savings, to help meet the needs of someone else.
Consider only God, and we trust that our own needs are met as well. As we consider God, we consider God as creator, saviour, friend and father, fully capable, fully loving, fully desiring to meet all our needs. When we seek God, we need not do so with fear, expecting difficult demands from God. God promises that all our needs are to be met when we seek God in all things.
This Lent, during this first fortnight, for those who have lost the practice, we can try starting the day with a prayer. By letting God know that we aim to seek God in all our activities that day. That we will seek God by doing at least one thing that we did not want to do, for the love of God. That we will seek God by not saying something unkind, for the love of God.