In the Tomb

Happy Easter! Yes, it’s still technically Easter in the Catholic Church. It’s going to be Easter until June 4, the feast of Pentecost. But anyway… I was musing about a homily I heard from our parish priest a few weeks ago. I’m sure it’s nothing new, but every now and then, people need to hear the same thing they’ve heard before as a reminder.

The message was deceptively simple: Put it in the tomb. All your worries, fears, anxieties, grudges, grievances, anger… anything icky inside your soul. Make a good confession. Take all that mess in your soul, put in the tomb and roll the stone over it. Then forget about it. It’s in the tomb, and it’s gone.

Sounds easy, but the reality of the task is more difficult than you’d initially think. I imagine sins as clinging, heavy wisteria vines draped around a person’s soul (just without the beauty and lovely scent). You have to work to pry them off. You may even have to cut them, and it may be painful. Rolling the stone over the tomb is not easy either. After all, it’s a heavy burden, and keeping your past sins and grievances out of your head is hard, especially when you are faced with daily struggles and memories that threaten to bring them all back.

One day, when the stone is rolled away from the tomb, we will find that our sins have been defeated and our weakness has been made perfect. Until that day… we struggle to remain close to God and keep our Baptismal promises to Him.

More Reasons I Give Up Music: Sacrifice and Love

Lent is almost over, and I’ve done what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years or so: giving up music. (I also gave up caffeine, so if any of this post is incoherent, that’s why.) The ultimate goal of this annual Lenten sacrifice is to get myself to the point where I cease to listen to popular music at all. I did pretty well at that for about nine months last year, but the silence got to me, and I had to fill my head with something that wasn’t useless worries. Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say. So the music turned on and my brain turned off.

Anyway, as I’ve said on here before, the point of making small sacrifices for Lent is to train yourself to become more self-disciplined and to get more used to making sacrifices, so that if the opportunity to make a huge sacrifice comes, it will be second nature to be selfless. This may be a profoundly negative outlook on life (or maybe just a product of me reading far too many books about World War II), but I always think about what would happen in a pre-apocalyptic scenario where food and water are scarce and the world as we know it essentially shuts down because of a great war or natural disaster. Would I be able to sacrifice for the people I love (or even the people I dislike or just tolerate), or would I become bitter and angry over the loss of modern conveniences and necessities?

The other, less dramatic reason I give up music is because most popular music is, objectively speaking, garbage. Much of it talks about “love,” but it’s a manufactured, clean, processed, idealistic, happy-go-lucky, purely hormonal infatuation that makes no effort to get through hard times and does not last. Many “love” songs are about the honeymoon phase of a relationship, before reality sets in and both partners become visible for who they actually are. Young people mistakenly believe that infatuation is love and that the type of “love” that is portrayed in music and movies and TV shows is real and lasting.

I, being more sheltered and naïve than most teenagers, used to believe this. That if you loved a person, you would constantly be infatuated with them, that my relationships would never be like the “bland,” “stale,” unsmiling, everyday thing that exists between my parents or my friends’ parents. Music got into my head, and to this day, I believe that I subconsciously absorbed the message that love is superficial.

Now I think that love, more than anything, is perseverance. It’s getting up in the morning and choosing to love your partner. As the cliché goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes time and practice. Love involves sacrifice for the greater good of the relationship or for the greater good of the other person. It is hard to sacrifice when you have been single and done things your own way for many years, but one can train oneself in sacrifice. There is hope.


Patrons and Patronesses

One of the many things I love about my faith is that there are thousands and thousands of others who have lived it heroically and who have been recognized for doing so. We have the canonized (recognized by the Church) saints, the foremost of whom is Mary, the Mother of God. And we also have millions of other saints who lived holy lives and now reside in heaven but are not formally recognized by the Church. These can be our own relatives, friends, and loved ones who have lived by and upheld the Precepts of the Church, so in a way, you could ask your own dearly departed grandfather to intercede for you and become one of your patrons.

We usually have quite a few saints who are our patrons and patronesses: the saint who shares our given name, the saint we choose as our patron when we receive the sacrament of Confirmation, the saint who is the patron of our occupation or hobby, and others whom we look up to and strive to imitate. So my patron saints would be St. Margaret (there are many saints who share her name, but I particularly like St. Margaret of Cortona), St. Agnes of Rome (I chose her when I was confirmed), St. John Bosco (patron saint of editors), and several other favorites: St. Maria Goretti, St. Padre Pio, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine of Hippo… I could go on and on.

It is comforting to think about all your friends in heaven who can pray for you and whom you can call upon for help. I know that there have been many times when I have called on Sts. Agnes and Augustine and they have pulled through for me. It is also nice to know that every day on the calendar is the feast day of at least one saint, so there are always people in heaven watching over us as we walk through this valley of tears. 🙂