You Did It For Me

It is the first full week of Lent, and already I struggle. I must have chosen well which things to uproot from my life—my family and I are enjoying great sport pointing out my unconscious consumption and countless offhand comments, both of which I’m attempting to quit.

Additionally, each Lent we notice how little we focus specifically, consciously, on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  During our morning prayers, Jodi and I shared today’s Gospel reading,  Matthew 25:31-46, which includes these words of warning:

“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  …  ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

It’s sobering each time we hear it: another year flown by, and what did we do for the least of His brothers? Our brothers? Continue reading

Too Blessed

Blogger’s Note: Most of this post was meant to be the beginning of the annual Thorp family Christmas letter. At this point, we plan to send you all Valentines…

The morning is cold, black, and bitter, like the dregs of yesterday’s coffee left in the car overnight. The thin crescent moon seems a galaxy away; the stars, more ice than fire; the jagged air catches in your throat, and the wind seems to strip life, layer by layer, from your shrunken, shivered form.

It is easy, on mornings like this, to justify staying abed, comfortable and warm beside your lover; to shut off the alarm, burrow into blankets and dreams, and await the sun. On mornings like this it’s hard—and perhaps undesirable—to imagine those who live outdoors in this weather, for whom the blue ache of cold is chiefly a sign they have not died in the night. That which you can feel is not yet frozen.

These are not pleasant thoughts on an early winter morning, when you’d rather be asleep, but they are also nothing a hot shower and coffee won’t cure.

Absolute comfort corrupts absolutely.

Continue reading

O Death, Where Is Your Sting?

At long last, we celebrate Easter, and the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ! Perhaps you’ve been steadfast in prayer, heartbroken and sincere in penance, and generous in alms-giving. Or perhaps you feel you’ve done too little, too late, for our Lord — perhaps you’ve slipped in your Lenten commitments or find that Easter has crept up on you almost unawares.
Either way, take comfort in the Easter homily below from St. John Chrysotom. Drawing on the gospel of Matthew, chapter 20, he reminds us that we never come too late to God and always receive full payment!

Easter Homily by St. John Chrysostom

Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort. 

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh. 

When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. 

He is risen, indeed — let us feast and rejoice this day like no other! Alleluia!

LIFT Links: Lenten Edition

Ash Wednesday is this week, marking the beginning of Lent, the penitential season that prepares us for the joy of Christ’s Resurrection at Easter. Too often we treat Lent like a do-over for our New Year’s resolutions or a chance to jumpstart our diet before swimsuit season. But Lent isn’t meant to be about loss–we fast to gain, to grow spiritually.

To that end, this week let’s look at few links on what Lent’s really about, and how to live it as a family.

One last thing: every year, people ask about “taking Sundays off” from your Lenten sacrifices. Some people insist that since Sundays are a feast day and not counted in the “40 days of Lent,” your sacrifices don’t apply to Sundays. Others say that a person out to be able to make it through the entire Lenten season, Sundays and all, without “stumbling” or “giving in.”

It is true that Sundays aren’t meant for fasting and aren’t counted among the 40 days of Lent. It may also be true that if you absolutely cannot abstain from whatever-it-is for the full Lenten season, you could be overly attached to it. My advice to my own family: decide now which you are going to observe and stick to it. If you think it would be a good disciple for you to go beerless or chocolate-free on Sundays, too, I don’t have a problem with that. Just remember that Sunday is a feast day and find ways to treat it as such. But whatever you do, don’t decide that a different day is going to be your “day off”– it’s not a day off; it’s the Lord’s Day, which makes it special — and don’t decide two weeks into Lent that maybe you could have a little just…this…once. That’s a slippery slope that quickly slides from Sundays into other days, too!