Smudges

I have been a Catholic for nearly four years. My conversion did not come with a massive epiphany. I felt no absence of faith that I needed to fill with this alien denomination. As a matter of fact, I shouldn’t even use the term conversion because my God didn’t change. I just sat in a different pew. My conversion was prompted by a strong, if not indoctrinated view given to me by my parents, that families should attend church together.

Before Isaiah was born, we treated our Sunday affiliations like partial custody of a child. Every other weekend we would bounce from a Non-Denominational church for me and a Catholic church for Paul. He would squeeze past the coffee station and loud chatter of fellowship to listen to a sermon that sometimes reminded him of a theater production. I would passively kneel and struggle to listen to a sermon that I thought had all the spirit of a 5th grade boy reading his book report on Nancy Drew.

Children always complicate things and a decision needed to be made. Paul was a cradle Catholic. He and all nine siblings attended Catholic Schools through high school graduation. The Catholic Church is where he finds God. I am more flexible in nature and thus find God everywhere. I am the one who was baptized in a horse trough. I knew that the transition was mine to make.

We are now approaching my fourth Easter as a Catholic which is preceded by my fourth Lenten season. I have the dark smudge of blessed ashes in the shape of a cross on my forehead to prove it. Four years ago, I would have thought it ridiculous and legalistic to follow the Lenten procedures. Ashes, alms, fasting, prayer…It all seems like a lot of unnecessary crap to do when my salvation is secure.

Now I view Lent as a gift to the faithful. A time where God says to us that it’s okay that you have forgotten Me. It’s okay that you take advantage of My grace and use more than what you need of everything. I am here and now that we both know, let’s do something about it. Why don’t you take the next forty days to come closer to me. Reflect on what you need to change and we will work through it together.

I accept his invitation to hit the reset button on my life. I move slower and with more thoughtful purpose. I pray more and am mindful of my faults. I confess more often because I am made aware of my sins. It is a time where God becomes less of a responsibility and more of a privilege.

I won’t list for you all that I intend to give up, change or donate because for me, that’s not the point. God knew me well enough to know that I would forget his sacrifices, my privileges and my priorities. He is not surprised by my behavior. The point is that God is willing to sacrifice again to remind me. Who wouldn’t worship a God like that?

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