March 26: So, one of my Dad’s favorite contemporary theologians is Bishop Robert Barron. This past week there was a gospel reading about forgiveness and Jesus says we must forgive seventy-seven times! In other words, to forgive endlessly, constantly, without calculation. I know that sometimes people have a hard time with forgiveness. Well, Bishop Barron offered the following, which is perhaps sometime good for all squirrels, I mean people, to think about, especially during this season of Lent.
“How do you become a better forgiver? Perhaps I can offer four practical suggestions:
First, keep your own sins frequently before your mind's eye. Use the Confiteor and the Lord's Prayer as points of reference.
Second, go to confession more regularly.
Third, forgive offenses quickly. Don't give them time to settle deeply into your psyche; seek reconciliation right away.
Finally, forgive through a concrete act or a concrete sign. Write a note, make a phone call, give a gift, offer your own presence. Forgiveness is most effective when it becomes concrete.”
So, I think I’ll write a note to some of my squirrel friends for chasing them up the trees and barking at them. Then again, that’s kinda what Shelties are supposed to do and really I think the squirrels like the game I play with them…. So, forget the note! And have a happy rest of your Lent!!
March 19: In my mailbox I found the following question:
Dear Maggie Sue,
Old question -- Is Sunday Lent? I always consider it is and abstain on it as well. I have a pecan pie slice, an ice cream cup and a cupcake in my freezer from Meals-on-Wheels waiting for Easter. Someone said that Sunday is not lent ...but it is a part of the 40 days, so how can it not be?
Perhaps an old but still a great question!! Technically, Lent begins Ash Wednesday and concludes Holy Thursday when the Mass of the Lord Supper begins. However if you count those days, minus the Sundays is 38, but including Good Friday and Holy Saturday (which really are days of Penance within themselves) you get 40. The number 40 is important as it parallels Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayer after his Baptism. Technically we don’t count the Sundays during Lent because each Sunday IS a “mini-Easter” but, in essence, Sundays are STILL a part of Lent!! Therefore if you want to relax your discipline during Lent it is rational to do so. However “REAL” Catholics will embrace their discipline and maintain its graces ALL through the Lenten Season.
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE FOR LENT
• Everyone 14 years of age or older is bound to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays in Lent.
• Everyone 18 years of age and under 59 years of age is bound to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
• On these two days of fast and abstinence, only one full meatless meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal one full meal.
• Eating between meals is not permitted on these two days, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices, are allowed. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige.
• To disregard completely the law of fast and abstinence is a serious matter.
A pastor once told his congregation “I learned a great lesson from a dog!” He said “His master used to put a bit of meat or a biscuit on the ground and he’d say to the dog, ‘Don’t eat that,’ and the dog would run over and eat it, so he’d gently hit the dog and say ‘NO.’ And he put another piece of meat on the ground. He’d say ‘Don’t eat that.’ The dog would go over and eat it, and he’d gently hit him again and say ‘NO.’ Well, after awhile, the dog got the message: eat meat, get hit. So the dog decided he wouldn’t eat the meat.” But the man telling the story related how that the dog never looked at the meat. The dog evidently felt that if he looked at the meat, the temptation to disobey would be too great, and so he looked steadfastly into his master’s face and never took his eyes off him, and thus the temptation never caused a problem!!
I’m wondering if that dog was a Sheltie!! But of course if it was, it wouldn’t have taken 3 times to learn!! But the important lesson for everyone is to keep your eyes focused on your Master and you’ll have no problem falling into temptations and sin, you think?!! Those squirrels sure did! ☺