Friday, March 12, 2010

"God does not want ascetic champions; He wants people who love."

Fr. Michael Monshau's homily for Laetare Sunday:

The habit of selflessness is cultivated by acts of penance and expressions of self-denial. When one can pass up something desirable (that tasty treat outside of mealtime; that extra hour in front of the television; the desire to speak unkindly about someone with whom I can interact only with great difficulty; the temptation to judge others), then one can claim a victory in self-discipline. When one has self-discipline, one has achieved self-control. When one enjoys self-control, one is in possession of one’s own self and only then is one able to give one’s self away. In other words, only the person with self-possession has sufficient freedom from being preoccupied with taking care of self first in order to place Christ (and the needs of Christ’s poor) at the center of their life. Penance trains us in the habit of thinking of others first. Every single act of penance helps us to grow in this kind of selflessness, maturity and holiness. Eventually we realize that if we cannot occasionally pass up that tasty snack or that extra stein of beer, there is no way in the world we will ever develop the strength to pass up the temptation to speak uncharitably about another or to commit any number of other sins. Our Lenten acts of penance, then, cultivate within us the strength to be more loving. The Church does not recommend Lenten penance so that each of us can note our capacity for sacrifice. Rather, Holy Mother Church recommends Lenten penances so that we can more easily grow in our capacity to love.
Read the entire homily.

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