April 15, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Clearing debris is a worthwhile Lenten goal

Shirley Vogler MeisterEarlier this Lent on a mild spring day, my husband, Paul, and I began clearing our yard of fallen tree limbs and other winter debris.

While I continued filling large yellow trash bags purchased through our parish school’s fundraiser, I prayed for our family, neighbors and friends.

Our church bulletin lists the names of people who need prayers, and I also pray for our Catholic clergy, our nation and countless other reasons.

“Offering up” any type of work, inconvenience or struggle—or even the happy moments in life—has been a habit with me since I was a child.

One day while doing yard work, I suddenly realized that Lent is a good time for me to clear the debris and aggravations of life from my soul.

How? By thinking about all the changes I can make to allow my heart to be closer to God.

During Lent, my husband, Paul, and I also read aloud The Little Black Book provided by our parish. We’ve done this for many years. If we forget, we usually go back to earlier pages to catch up on what we’ve missed. I’m sure that many Catholics treasure this Lenten tradition.

However, this Lent we are suffering a little more than usual. Our basement flooded twice in a relatively short time, and the water damage was considerable. We knew that we needed to waterproof our basement, but that is a costly and formidable project.

Fortunately, a week before the first spring flood, I had cleaned out a storage room filled with countless books, and stacked them on tables and furniture in the family room. Otherwise, the water damage would have been much worse.

I “offered up” each and every inconvenience. Yet, trusting in God’s grace, by the time this column is in print Paul and I should have conquered all of these challenges.

Meanwhile, also through God’s grace, many others will have benefited from my basement prayers—even the poor souls in purgatory.

As Lent progressed, I quietly read through The Little Black Book, and I join my husband each morning at breakfast to read aloud the daily offering. For readers who do not have access to The Little Black Book, here is a passage that is pivotal:

“When I come to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist says to me, ‘The Body of Christ … the Blood of Christ,’ and I say ‘Amen.’ I’m not simply saying ‘Amen’ to the Real Presence. I’m saying ‘Amen’ to receiving the Lord into my life—not some day when I’ve got everything worked out, but here and now. In effect, I say, ‘Lord, I’m not perfect and I don’t have all the answers. But I do believe in you, and I accept you into my life here and now.’ ”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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