Today begins Lent, the period in which Catholics prepare for the most important part of our faith, the suffering and crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. As Catholics, we are called to enter this season prayerfully; to fast, to pray, to donate time, treasure and talents, all as symbols of our faith.
Fasting does not necessarily involve food, it includes giving up pleasures or comforts of any kind. Some take this opportunity to make life changing decisions, eradicating habits, vices, or anything that separates them from God. Sometimes it is a big thing, sometimes small, but each time it is an opportunity to bring them closer to God.
This period of preparation is referred to as "our Lenten journey." It is meant to coincide with our reflection on Christ's journey; his suffering, death and resurrection. Lent has always been an important part of my faith, I have experienced great spiritual growth during these periods in my life. And it has taken on greater importance since my diagnosis.
I find tremendous comfort in Lent, in the passion of Christ. My journey is nothing compared to that what Christ had to endure. The path of ALS that is before me is terrifying, yet I am not afraid because of what He endured for me. ALS is simply the cross that I must carry through the final part of my journey. I confess there are moments of fear, primarily when I find new evidence of my disease progression, but that fear is fleeting because of my faith. My fasting, my symbolic sacrifices during Lent, allow that faith to grow stronger.
I know that many who read this blog do not share my faith. Some are lapsed or former Catholics, some are other denominations, some are without faith and others go a step further and proclaim to be atheist. Yet in all of our differences we have this in common: we all have crosses that we must bear; crosses of our choosing and crosses thrust upon us, and crosses that at times seem unbearable. But those crosses do not need to be borne alone.
So I invite you to pick up your cross, join me and Catholics worldwide, as we journey through Lent to Easter. There is no better time to strengthen, rediscover, or even find your faith in Christ.
James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.