The Burning Away Fil-Am’s Guide to Lent – Part One

by Fred C. Wilson III
March 20, 2011
“Heaven lent you a soul. Earth will lend you a grave.” -Christian Nestell Bovee-

Reader, do you know when you’re going to DIE? No you don’t unless you got some really nasty disease and the doctor gave you the time and date when your ‘number’s’ (time) up. I don’t know when I’m gonna’ ‘ride outta’ here’ (die); none of us do. Lent is that time of the year to prepare for life’s unpleasant surprises. Wanna’ quit smoking, eliminate profanity, or drink moderately? Lent is the acceptable time to do all that. The penitential season is the time to become a fully integrated human being. Holiness (wholeness) won’t happen in a season; it takes a lifetime of trial and error. Lent is the time to initiate your personal program of reform and renewal. Most of all Lent is the time to get more personal with GOD. Let’s begin.

Everybody wants to go to Heaven. I don’t know many people who want to go to Hell. A primary lesson to be learnt from the Lenten experience is how to avoid Perdition and qualify for Heaven; saying “Lord-Lord” but doing nothing just won’t ‘hack it.’ For lack of space I’m approaching my subject in similar fashion as did the old pre-Vatican II Baltimore Catechism by stating the facts and nothing else. You want the ‘long version’ surf the Internet for articles that approach Lent more thoroughly.

GOD can be compared to whomever you consider the ultimate idea of beauty, your ideal companion beautiful to the point of adoration, rich beyond your wildest imaginings, invincible, sensuous the point of rapture, and all else you consider good, holy, and noble. You’d be right. GOD is all this and infinitely more. GOD is beauty, strength, and goodness personified to an immeasurable degree. Our Creator is our Best Friend. HE/SHE can also be our worst nightmare come true if we fall short after we die.

The awful reality of Hell is rarely preached nowadays. Reader, when was the last time your priest/pastor talked about eternal damnation? Hell ain’t pretty; it isn’t supposed to be. Hell is that place of eternal torment magnified to the ugliest degree. Hell’s the “ultimate reeducation camp” as the Chicago Tribune once said in a political cartoon that showed presumed unrepentant sinner then recently deceased communist Cambodian tyrant Pol Pot being escorted through Hell’s gates through a chorus line of grinning demons. (See: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory at…)

Every child that’s ever attended parochial schools ‘back in the day’ (pre-Vatican II era) is familiar with the concept of sacrificing spiritual benefits accrued from personal pain and suffering for the souls of the dead undergoing spiritual transformation in Purgatory. Outsiders to Roman Catholicism sometimes laugh or ask a flurry of rapid-fire questions, many derisive, when talking to Catholics about Purgatory. The practice of sacrificing suffering for a dead person to some seems silly, primitive, ‘asinine Catholic superstition;’ a theology gone wrong.

I’m of the theological opinion that the concept of Purgatory is the Catholic version of Reincarnation. This ancient Eastern belief of death and rebirth of people acting out a myriad number of living times before attaining Enlightenment (oneness with the Cosmos) has a Catholic spin. In Catholic theology the souls of the dead are transported to another dimension in order to learn lessons that weren’t fully absorbed on earth. When a person offers up (donate) his sufferings to GOD in reparation for his sins or those of others the purgation period can be shortened or erased.

SPIRIT: If you’re Christian (Catholic/Non-Catholic) here’s some suggested spiritual practices:
* Fast twice weekly from animal products, alcohol, and junk foods.
* Make a religious retreat. Cenacle Retreat House will host its’ annual Lenten retreat from March 25th thru the 27th. Call Sr. Helen Donahoe at: 773-528-6300 to reserve your space. The address is: 513 W. Fullerton Parkway in Chicago. Their email is:
* Make the Stations of the Cross or spend 15 minutes praying the Bible.
* Practice the virtues of Patience, cheerfulness, right order, temperance, etc.
* Evangelize: Talk to family, friends, and business associates about Jesus Christ and how HE works in your life.
* Encourage people to attend church or invite them to yours.
* Visit a person in a hospital, nursing home, and get involved in prison ministry.
* For Catholics: Spend an hour before the Blessed Sacrament. For Non-Catholics and Catholics: attend mid-week Bible Study.
MIND: ‘The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste’ reads the slogan of the National Negro College Fund. Here’s some suggestions how you can better enrich your mind this Lent:
* Read spiritual, self-help, or other books on self-development as your special Lenten project.
* Read at least one best-selling book that deals with societal problems. I personally recommend the best selling novel ‘The Jungle’ by Upton Sinclair one of my favorites.
* Read ‘Little Brown Brother’ a book about the United States purchased and pacified the Philippines by award winning author Leon Wolff.
BODY: Two months ago I started studying Yoga. I got the book ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Yoga’ for a quarter at a thrift shop! Reader, it’s one-good-book! Here are some practical suggestions on how to improve and discipline your body this Lent:
* Study Yoga, Tai Chi, the martial arts (if you’re fit) or some other form of mental discipline.
* Eat foods that have been scientifically proven to boost your mental acuity.
* Visit a health store and purchase food items that strengthen your heart, lower your bad cholesterol, and cleanse your colon.
* Fine-tune your relationship with your ‘significant other’ (spouse); have more intimate moments!
* Visit your doctor and get a through physical examination to guard against cancer, diabetes, blindness, and other physical/mental ailments. I visit my doctor once a month. I’m a big believer in preventive medicine.

Next edition we’ll conclude our two part two Lenten series on improving and modernizing our spiritual practices. Thanks for being with me. GOD bless you, pray often, and drive carefully.

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