Our Eternal Destination Matters More Than Our Yellow Brick Road


 

 

 

As a child, I knew a little girl who had a little problem with her family’s vacations.  She always loved the different places they would visit, but she never enjoyed the journey getting there.  She hated long car drives, was afraid of flying, did not care much for trains, and was simply very impatient and even paranoid about taking too long to get to their destinations.  Simply put, she loved where she was going but did not love the different ways she could get there.  As odd as this might seem, many of us are the same way about a far more important trip-  our earthly journey to our eternal destination.

What Matters

We can all agree that what really matters is that we save our souls and that of as many people as God puts before us to help.  Ending up in heaven is the ultimate success story regardless of what stories we wrote here on earth. The most successful person on earth is not a success if he or she loses heaven forever.  Conversely, the biggest earthly loser is the ultimate winner if he or she gains heaven forever.  That being said, one has to wonder why so many of us worry so much about our journey rather than our destination.

Luggage over Location

Mother Angelica used to wonder why we all worry so much about our earthly journey, this pilgrimage to our heavenly home, when it is simply a path to what really matters.  I think that there are a few reasons why we get bogged down in these concerns.  First, we end up thinking that the journey is what really matters thanks to this world.  Everywhere we go, people pretend that this life is all we have, and that we better make it work the way the world wants it to work. Imagine that you only have $ 5,000 for a trip and you spend $ 4,900 on travel alone.  You won’t have much fun once you get to your destination with $ 100 in your pocket. Instead of spending most of your resources on travel, you should embrace the travel level you can use and focus on enjoying your destination instead.  I am not suggesting that you go to Mexico on a donkey, but maybe First Class with extras is not very smart if you are on a budget.

Second, I think that many people convince themselves that there is no real destination worth dreaming about anyway.  How sad for those who, consciously or not, come to believe that this life is all we have.  Knowing much better, we have no excuses to ignore or deny that we are indeed going somewhere eternally of our own earthly choosing.  Lastly, many of us lose sight of our destination because we do not keep our eyes, minds, hearts, and souls on it.  If we spend most of our time focused on our present trek without looking at where we are headed, we may not end up where we originally intended to go.

Ingredients to The Ultimate Dish

When we cook or bake something, we go out and get the right ingredients and put them together as dictated in a recipe to end up with the desired dish.  In order to do this, we need to first buy the right ingredients and then put those ingredients together in the right way.  Nobody will suggest that we simply use any ingredients we have at home no matter what because we will not end up with the right dish.  Likewise, nobody suggests that we simply buy the right ingredients and throw them on a table because our desired dish must be prepared correctly using these ingredients in the right combination.

In the same way, we must determine what gifts God has given us and how we might combine them in the best way to serve and love God and others.  If we do this, we will have the correct recipe to end up with our desired result of eternal salvation. If we do not determine our ingredients or bother to put them together for God and others, we will never end up with our desired eternal result.

Conclusion

Joseph and Mary rode a donkey through treacherous areas on more than one occasion to go where God wanted them to go.  They trusted God and knew that He would guide them to the right place.  Similarly, we must accept whatever journey God provides us to the place that really matters- heaven.

2017  Gabriel Garnica

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God and Backseat Drivers


Psychologists tell us that backseat drivers, folks who find it necessary to give unnecessary, unwanted advice in the car and elsewhere, are really just expressing their own insecurities, lack of faith in others,  or reaction to feeling powerless.  Many of us have been the victims of such people, both in the car and in life, and it is no understatement to say that such people can be irritating, annoying, and even dangerous.

The expression “backseat driver” of course, has expanded beyond the automobile to include people who obsessively mistrust, find it necessary to control or judge, or think that they have all the right answers.  Consequently, such people tend to feel that the one in perceived control of the situation, be it a driver, manager, or other, does not always know what he or she is doing.

The question is, are we God’s backseat drivers?   Do we poke our nose in God’s Will, questioning where He is taking us and why?

A Little Faith Goes a Long Way

We can talk a good talk about trusting God with our affairs, problems, and concerns, but the proof is in the pudding, not the meddling.  First, we need to humbly and sincerely ask God to help us.  Second, we need to follow that request for help with true trust that God knows what He is doing in our lives. Lastly, we need to respectfully and obediently step out of the way and let Him do the driving.

Too many times, we pray asking for our way at our time, and write off the prayer as unanswered if we do not get our way.  Absurd as it seems, how many times do we micromanage the Manager of the Universe?  It is a contradiction to pray the Our Father asking God to follow our instructions, guidelines, and preferences to the tee.

Locus of Control

Locus of control is a psychological concept referring to where people feel that the control in their lives is found.   This society promotes an internal locus of control, wherein folks feel empowered to guide their lives, as the sign of a healthy, responsible, and ultimately successful person.  Conversely, this society paints having an external locus of control as being a weak, irresponsible, rationalizing loser who plays the role of victim all the time. Where society has this locus of control thing wrong is in how locus is used.

While it is true that using an external locus of control to play the victim, avoid responsibility, and blame everybody else for one’s issues is wrong and destructive, it is also true that using an internal locus of control to bully, manipulate, intimidate, judge, and project our insecurities on others can be just as harmful.  Thus, how one uses an internal or external locus of control is more important than merely having one or the other. Using either one for selfish reasons is wrong, and using either one to bring glory to and obey God as well as love others is right.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive people make things happen, and reactive people wait for things to happen to them.  Needless to say, proactive types are normally associated with an internal locus of control and, conversely, reactive types are commonly viewed as tending to have an external locus of control.

Most of the time, being proactive is better than being reactive. However, there are times when we should step back, process what is happening, and then react to that, as opposed to just blindly jumping into every situation  swinging like some crazed, self-perceived super hero.

Once again, society oversimplifies the relationship between locus of control and being proactive or reactive.   It assumes that having an internal locus of control is akin to being proactive and, conversely, that having an external locus of control parallels with being reactive. While this may often be true, it is not always so and, beyond that, the good and bad of all of this is not so clear cut either.

Our Way and Sin

If you think about it, sin is really selfishly doing things our way regardless of what we should know that God wants.  Claiming that we think God wants this or that, based purely on our own subjective, biased agenda, is playing make-believe morality.  Likewise, pretending that we do not know what God wants, without making a concerted, sincere, and legitimate effort to discern that Will, is purposeful moral fraud.

The Key and Bridge

The key to all of this is to be purposeful in seeking and trying to actualize God’s Will as found in Scripture, Christ’s example and teachings,  and our own constantly developing conscience.  Once we are trying to function within that Divine Will, we must remain purposeful in carrying it through while becoming reactive in allowing God to speak to and through us.

God does not want us to be babbling moral idiots, spewing excuses or fawning mindless, oblivious adorations we do not feel. Neither does He want us to be insolent backseat drivers, bullying and questioning everything that happens in our lives like irritated accountants counting pegs or measuring perceived wins and losses on some ledger. Sincere prayer,  honest reflection, and purposeful meditation and study often help us to balance the purpose, reaction, and locus of control in our lives.

Conclusion

Each of us is riding a life taxi to our ultimate destination.  We can either ask God to achieve His Will through our proactive efforts and reactive trust, or we can rant and rave about where our taxi should be going and why. Ultimately, we must each ask ourselves how much we trust the Divine Driver of our life taxi and how sincerely we accept and want Him to take us home…His way.

 

 

 

2016  Gabriel Garnica

Christ is The Best Math Teacher Ever…..Seriously.


Many folks look at math as an old enemy, still licking the wounds of distant brushes with word problems and equations that were never fully understood, much less solved. For others, math is a comfortable pair of slippers that bring warm and fuzzy memories of solving problems other students could never even figure out how to start tackling. I probably belonged, and still live, in a third, middle group, where math is a challenge sometimes but a defeated challenge in the end. Actually, I now like algebra much more than I did way back in high school. Perhaps I have finally found the handle of about as much math as I will ever be able to handle, or need, and that is OK by me.

I love putting together things that seemingly have nothing to do with each other, and figuring out ways that, in fact, they do have something to say to each other. Such is the case with math and faith for, at first glance, the only connection between a plus sign and a cross is that they look alike and many people tend to pray right before taking math tests.  Accepting the premise that math can be a motivator for prayer, I think that there is a lot more here than meets the eye, or the soul.

For starters, math is about adding and subtracting, and so is Christ’s message to us.  If we add graces and good works to our ledger while subtracting our sinfulness and destructive attitudes, we will be making a very positive investment in our spiritual future.  If, on the other hand, we add sinful behaviors and thoughts and subtract our love and concern for others in the process, we will be on our way toward a result far worse than the most difficult calculus exam ever was.

Christ tells us to subtract what takes us away from God, and add what brings us closer to God, and that is about as simple an equation as any salvation seeker can find. We are taught that, if approached properly, confession subtracts, not only our sins but, as Vinny Flynn tells us in his 7 Secrets of Confession, the root reasons for our sin, which is far more important.  Ultimately, our time, effort, priorities, mind, soul, and life itself are all fixed containers with only so much space. It is up to each of us to choose how we will allocate that space, either by adding or subtracting good works and intentions and, just as importantly, destructive works and intentions.

Christ also teaches us to share our blessings, time, and love with others which, by definition, requires us to divide our emotional, personal, financial, and temporal resources among those we wish to share with.  He promises, and demonstrates, that those who divide what they have out of love will watch Our Lord multiply their efforts many times over.  Is this not what He accomplished with the multiplication of the loaves and fish as well as at The Last Supper. In both cases, Our Lord divided in order to multiply.

I would like to close this mathematical foray into Our Lord’s example with three points. First, speaking of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, we are told that Christ asked His followers to search among the people for what food could be obtained. We are also told that thousands of people were present. It is not irrational or unrealistic to assume that, among all of those thousands, at least 10% brought some food of their own, which would mean that around 500, if not more, people had some kind of food available yet, from those hundreds, only one young boy  offered what little he had. Despite the utter selfishness of the situation where many refuse to share and only one does, Our Lord overcame that selfishness of the crowd, and used the boy’s generosity, to fashion a multiplication of blessings for all.

The second closing point to consider goes back to our comparison between a plus sign and the cross which, for all intents and purposes, are roughly the same geometric figure. While most would certainly consider a cross a  most negative shape given the kind of terrible deaths inflicted on them, Our Lord converts what is generally regarded as a negative image or shape into a most  positive shape and image of His ultimate, loving sacrifice for our redemption.This should remind us that it is in precisely the most negative moments that we can find God at our side helping us, should we trust and love Him enough. Lastly, as the above title notes, Christ is truly a great math teacher, able to convert the esoteric and perhaps confusing concepts of math into real life applications of love and God’s power. However, as perfect a math teacher as Our Lord is, there is one place where He is much better at subtracting than adding, and that is in the confessional, where He  waits to subtract our sins and, out of Divine Mercy and love, to stop adding them up.

2015  Gabriel Garnica

Last Super Bowl Play is a Primer in Faith and Salvation; The Response to It is the Anti-Divine Mercy


We have all seen it, and anyone who knows anything about football knows it was probably the most bone-headed play ever called in a Super Bowl. Needing only one yard to repeat as champions, Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, decided to call a slant pass with the explosive Marshawn Lynch standing in the backfield ready to ram the ball into the end zone.  Had the inexplicably risky play worked, people would have called Carroll as gutsy as ever but, even if it had, throwing the ball in those circumstances makes no sense at all. In the end, many felt Carroll tried to get “too cute” in his strategy rather than merely do the safer, simpler, and much more practical thing by calling a running play with perhaps the most dangerous runner in football in important situations.

Given the above, many have asserted that Carroll, true to his nature, likes to shoot from the hip and display an almost reckless swagger that has come to characterize his team. Others cite an arrogance just beneath the surface of that swagger, displaying a subtle disdain for the conventional, as well as  a distaste for the expected.  This swagger worked when Carroll went for and got the tying touchdown just before the half when most would have settled for a field goal to cut the margin. It seemed destined for another inevitable fairy tale ending when Jermaine Kearse juggled, and caught a long pass while sitting on his behind to put the Seahawks within sight of victory with less than a minute remaining. However, as often happens, those who rely on improbable miracles built on reckless abandon run out of luck, and so this amazing catch was destined to become but a bitter precursor to the collapse that followed.

Our faith and salvation depend on our ability to simplify and apply God’s laws to our lives. It is only when we try to get too “cute” and pretend that we can improvise God’s recipe for success and salvation that we get into trouble.  Rather than develop a lunch pail, workman-like approach to bringing glory to God and serving others, we often go for the big play,  the sexy display of sheer nobility or holiness.  I bet that many of us, given the chance to gain world-wide fame for helping one person or total anonymity for helping a thousand people, would opt for the former rather than the latter.

If bringing glory to God and serving others in His Name is too complicated for us, it is only because we make it so by pretending that God’s ways are somehow too dry and dull for our taste.  We dare to fancy ourselves so much more multi-dimensional than God calls us to be, adept at serving others and praising God while reading our own press clippings. In the end, I will take controlled excellence over reckless spectacles every day.

As for the reaction to this foolish play, there we have the complete opposite of the kind of mercy which Christ calls us to exhibit. This biggest of blunders in clearly the biggest of stages has resulted in the biggest of backlashes possible from fans too eager to pretend they know more about football than these coaches have forgotten.  Yes, it was a terrible mistake but, no, that does not mean that Carroll or any of his coaches should be forever bashed for the move.  Christ calls on us to forgive the biggest falls from precisely the biggest stages more easily than the smallest missteps from the most unimportant situations. I think that it is safe to say that Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will have to live with this painful memory for a long time, so bashing them now is just too easy and clearly vicious.

So there you  have it.  Simplify and execute God’s simple plan for your salvation; do not try to get fancy with the basic formula God has provided us. Secondly, be ready to forgive the biggest blunders and harms in the biggest situations, for our eternal judgment will be the scene of far bigger blunders in a far more important game for each of us, and we will need all the compassion, consideration, and mercy we can get.

2015  Gabriel Garnica

The Ultimate Lemonade


 

                                        

 

We have all heard the expression “making lemonade out of lemons” as an illustration of positive thinking.  Certainly, we need such thinking in this world given the overwhelming assaults from all sides on our psyche, emotions, and, in full order, our faith.  The devil is a cunning, shrewd, and highly intelligent foe, and one of his most powerful weapons is negativity.  We play into his hands when we despair, lose hope, surrender, or simply decide that there is no hope for us.  In such a state, we are more likely to fall into a self-fulfilling paradox of sorts whereby we will simply sin because, on some subconscious level, we wonder what difference it will make if we add a few grains of sand to our desert of sinfulness.

While there are many things to discuss with regard to the role of positive thinking in faith, let us confine ourselves here to one simple point, which is that Christ’s Divine Mercy and God’s love for us provide us with the ultimate lemonade in a sea of lemons.  This reality presents us with three different perspectives which each give us new insight into the power of Divine Mercy and the need of us to embrace that Mercy.

First, we cannot deny that, without such Divine Mercy, we would already be doomed and lost and then, yes, what difference would it make if we sinned yet again for, in truth, we would already be damned by now. Second, that very Divine Mercy is precisely what makes getting up and trying again so wonderful, and so constructive. If, no matter how badly we have strayed, we know that we will start fresh if we are sorry, confess our sins, and try again, then there is always hope, always the chance to save ourselves and, consequently, always a reason to limit or flee from further sin.

The third and most important aspect of all of this, however, is the actual value of our own sinfulness and weakness.  Many of us might be tempted to wish that we would never sin, fall, or drop the ball with regard to our relationship with God. Certainly, many of us may reason, such a state would make our lives and our job of saving our souls so much easier, and perhaps that is true on some level.  However, I suggest that you consider which student appreciates passing a major exam more:  the one who passes it easily with flying colors the first time or, in the contrary, the one who has repeatedly failed that test and finally gets over the top.  Certainly, we know that those who have struggled usually appreciate victory more than those to whom victory comes as easily as breathing.

On an even deeper level, our falls enable our rising; our fumbles enable our recovery; and our sin enables The Almighty to show us His Divine Mercy and forgiveness.  Many folks spend most of their time trying not to sin when, in fact, they should be spending most of that time loving The Almighty with such relentless audacity that sin is trampled as merely a very temporary obstacle on the way to loving God forever in paradise. This is not to minimize the power or danger of sin but, rather, to maximize the power and importance of Divine Mercy.  At the end of the day, we have to love God so much that no sin has the power to make us surrender our drive to love Him forever. We need to stop trying to be perfect and start accepting and embracing our imperfection, asking for forgiveness for that imperfection which offends God, and then continually and relentlessly go about the business of saving our souls and that of others as well.

We must realize that, for all of its destructive power, sin is what enables us to truly appreciate God’s Mercy and Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.  One cannot truly see the light until one has dwelt in the darkness. The irony here is that we cannot fully defeat sin until we embrace it as the contrast that enables us to seek sanctity. Some of our greatest saints were also some of our greatest sinners.  Peter denied Christ three times before he became the rock.  St. Francis was apparently no stranger to great sin before he rose to spiritual greatness.  Christ came to heal the sick, and we cannot experience His healing power until we admit and accept that we are as sick as it gets and move on. So the next time you slip up, as we all do all too often, love your God with such relentless zeal and determination that your fall will be but a very minor and temporary obstruction on your path to eternal salvation for, if that love is true, it will be much easier to admit your sin, ask for forgiveness from it, and move on.

2014, Gabriel Garnica

Judas, Peter, and Divine Mercy


                   

 

With Lent just past, and the mix of pain and joy which that time serves us, I am reminded of a discussion I have had numerous times with various friends and relatives. Namely, who was guilty of the greater sin,  Judas, or Peter?   Scholars seem to fall on both sides of this debate, with those targeting Judas seeing the ultimate result as their central focus, while those targeting Peter as guilty of the greater sin seemingly focusing on a number of points.  Those who argue that Judas was the guiltier party seem to focus on the fact that, one way or the other, the betrayal of Judas had the more direct impact on Christ’s capture and murder. After all, one can argue, Peter betrayed Jesus after Jesus had been arrested and, clearly, whether or  not Peter denied Christ was not going to have any impact on the fate Jesus had before Him.  The enemies of Christ did not push for His death because Peter denied  him but, rather, regardless of that fact.  Had Peter jumped on a chair and proudly announced that he was, in fact, a follower of Christ and, in fact, the leader of those followers, Jesus would not have been released with a wink and a smirk of “Sorry about that!”.

If the actions of Peter, then, had nothing to do with Christ’s fate that day then, we might ask, did the actions of Judas have much more to do with that result? Surely, it would seem so, at least on the basis that Judas made it much easier for the enemies of Jesus to get their hands on him.  Without Judas, it would likely have been much tougher for these enemies to grab Jesus without causing a riot but, one might consider, it is likely that, sooner or later, one way or the other, they would have ultimately gotten their target, albeit with much more difficulty and far less convenience.  Thus, we can say, Peter’s actions had nothing to do with Christ’s fate and the actions of Judas certainly facilitated and accelerated a fate which would have likely happened sooner or later, given the power and influence of His enemies.  Let us hit Judas with 2 guilt points given that his acts had a more direct impact on the fate of Our Lord.   Guilt Score……Peter 0    Judas 2

As to the motives of the two men, Peter sold out Christ for safety and out of cowardice, while Judas sold Him out out of a mix of greed and confusion, so let’s call that a draw and post the guilt score at  Peter 1   Judas  3.

As to the quantity of the betrayals,  Peter betrayed Christ 3 times and Judas once, so let’s throw those amounts into the mix and call the score   Peter  4   Judas  4.

Both men were followers of Christ who had known him for a long time and  seen His great Holiness and love of others, so let’s call the length of their relationship with Christ a draw and have the score at Peter 5  Judas 5.

As to the centrality and stature of each man among the apostles, there is little doubt that Peter was the leader of the group and, therefore, his actions would have a much  more devastating example and impact on the integrity of the group, given his leadership and example role.   Peter 6   Judas 5.

Now, let us add the fact that Jesus had already placed Peter in a special position and called him the Rock upon which Our Lord would build the Church, so we can argue that, in betraying Christ, Peter was falling much farther from grace than Judas ever did.   Peter 7  Judas 5.

Scripture tells us that both men bitterly regretted what they had done, so let’s call that a draw also.  Peter 8  Judas 6.

Despicable as the actions of Judas were, they were necessary for the plan of Salvation to unfold.  Despite the fact that Scripture notes that it would have been better if Judas had never been born, the fact remains that, detestable as his actions were, they served a purpose in God’s salvation plan.  Despite the fact that, even if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, He would likely have been murdered sooner of later by His foes, the fact remains that Judas served a predestined role in these events.  In brief,  Judas was serving himself and, likewise, God’s ultimate plan.  By contrast, Peter was only serving himself, as his actions had no indirect or external purpose in God’s plan, but only served Peter.   Peter 9  Judas  6.

So, we see, Peter was considerably more guilty than Judas in terms of selling out Christ.  In fact, some would argue that, while betraying someone is despicable in that one is abusing trust, at least the betrayer admits to having established the trust he is abusing.  In other words, the betrayer is  not denying his relationship to the betrayed. Rather, he is abusing that relationship after implying that such a relationship existed on some level.  One might even argue that, in order to be more effective, betrayal needs a closer relationship to work.  Thus, how rarely does one hear of someone betraying a stranger?  No, it seems the very essence of betrayal that one needs to admit to having a close relationship in order to carry out such betrayal in the first place.  Simply put, Judas may have stabbed Jesus in the back but, in order to do so, he had to admit that he had Christ’s back at some point and was close, at some point.

What of Peter?  In denying Christ three times, Peter basically rejected the idea that he even knew Jesus.  What would hurt you more; if someone you knew stabbed you in the back or, conversely, if someone you held as a special leader denied even knowing you in the first place, as if knowing and being associated with you was a curse?  Let’s give Peter 2 guilt points on that one and Judas 1, so that our new score is  Peter 11  Judas 7.

In the near final analysis, by the standards of this world then,  Peter was more guilty than Judas in his actions.  However, this is where Divine Mercy comes in.  Our Lord told Sister Faustina that, the greater the sinner and the sin, the greater the possibility of Divine Mercy in the face of sincere contrition, audacious love, and trusting abandonment to God’s Divine Mercy.  Despite being much more wrong than Judas, Peter drowned his pride and self-interest in a sea of total love and trust, as well as a relentless desire to not be separated  from Our Lord, which happen to be the necessary ingredients for Divine Mercy as outlined by Our Lord to Sister Faustina.

While the numbers used here are only meant for illustrative purposes and, obviously, are in no way meant to be concrete or precise measures of relative guilt, the fact that Divine Mercy wipes out these subjective measures is what matters here.  Ultimately, Peter’s greater sin was wiped out by his infinitely greater love of Christ and total trust and abandonment to Our Lord’s Divine Mercy.  By contrast, Judas remained mired in self, in pride and, worse still, wandered into blasphemy, which many scholars define as thinking that one knows better than God.  On that last point, Judas very clearly thought that he had a clearer grasp of his guilt and opportunity for reconciliation than God did, which led to  his total despair and ultimate surrender to sin with further, conclusive, sin.

With apologies for one more play on subjective measures of guilt:   Peter 11  –  11  Divine Mercy  =   0  as opposed to    Judas = 7 with waiver of that Mercy = 7

At the end of the day, Divine Mercy is about not letting yourself be defined by your sinfulness but, rather, by your total love and trust in God.

Copyright, 2014,   Gabriel Garnica.    All rights reserved.

 

“Lent” is a Good Name for This Time of Year


We are told that the word “Lent” is from Anglo-Saxon roots and means Spring. However, in an ironic way, the word “Lent” is perfectly suited to what this period before Easter is all about.

In addition to the known meaning as the 40 days before Easter wherein we fast, pray, and give up pleasures in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, the word “lent” happens to also be the transitive verb form of  the verb “lend” which is to give something with the understanding that it is to be returned at some future date, perhaps with interest. This second meaning is very ironic to me because, if we think about it, everything we are, have, and will ever be is lent to us by God with the understanding that we are to make some use of it during our lives to bring greater glory to Him.

Our earthly materialism is mere absurdity given the eternal reality that, not only is whatever we have here on earth very temporary and cannot be “taken with us” after we die but, also, even its temporary use here on earth has the very strict requirement, if it is to be properly used, of being used to serve and bring greater glory to the wonderful God Who gives us everything, and to Whom we owe everything in return.

Taken in this context, our lives, our possessions, our children, all of our blessings, our health, our money, and everything we have or are, for that matter, are temporarily handed to us as an experiment to see what we do with all of these blessings. Our first responsibility, or mission, if you will, is to discern and discover what each of these blessings are. Our second responsibility, it follows, is to maximize these blessings to the fullest in the  service of the greater glory of God Almighty. It is thus that our third responsibility, then, is realized, which is to give these blessings back to God with interest. What is that interest? Perhaps it is the added enhancement of having been used for God’s purpose beyond its mere existence.

Just as Ash Wednesday reminds us to repent, and that we will all eventually return to dust, so too the entire context of the word “Lent” should remind us that every hair on our head and every moment of our lives has been “lent” to us by God, with the clear understanding that we are to do something very unique with those blessings beyond the selfish use for self-comfort and benefit. This is why materialism and possessiveness are such absurd, foolish traits.  Everything we are and have belongs to God, and it is our responsibility to return as much of what we own and are to  God with some return on His investment, or else have to answer why we failed to uphold that responsibility as children of God.

Notice, as stated before, that “lent” is considered a transitive verb. Now,, the word “transitive” itself means being characterized by transition and having a direct object. Well, should  not this earth be nothing but a transition to us, a temporary holding post on our journey back home to Heaven?  Likewise, should the Word of God and the example of Christ be our direct objects, that which all we do aims to?

So, you see, the word “Lent” means more than a coming spring. For true Catholics and likewise fervent Christians, the word “lent” reminds us that we came to this earth naked and poor and we will leave it that way as well since, after all, wealth comes from people and circumstances of this earth, and has no special connection of influence with Heaven.

Ultimately, we each have a duty to bring others to Christ through example and word, which means that we are merely temporary stewards awaiting a rich reward in Heaven while adding interest, compounded spiritually, to everything we do, everyone we help, and everything we are, as long as God is involved.

Copyright, 2014  Gabriel Garnica,  All Rights Reserved.