Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hopeful Abstaining: Hold On

Tuesday greetings on a Spring-like day here in the Midwest.

I had quite a few comments to yesterday's post, both here on the blog and on the blog's Facebook page.

One comment, in particular, touched me.

"I am one of 'those Catholics.' I still call myself Catholic and tend to abstain on Lenten Fridays, even though my Mass attendance is sporadic, and it is not because of some idea that not eating meat on Friday will grant me salvation. If I was really worried about salvation, I'd be better about going to Mass. I think the abstaining, for me, is a somewhat painless tradition that keeps me connected by that thread to a faith I once had, sorely miss, and wish I could grasp again, but struggle with because of many reasons, none of which have to do with the words of the Mass. So, I guess it is hopeful abstaining. I liken it to people who may celebrate Thanksgiving even if their past family celebrations were fraught with discord or alienation or pain or loss. Sometimes you hold on to what you can even if, for now or forever, it is something small and not everything. Sometimes you do the best you can, even if to others it is seen as not enough."

First of all, "Anonymous," I will be praying for you. And my remaining Lenten abstinence from meat will be joined to your "hopeful abstaining."

This comment gave me pause, as I looked at my own Catholic life. I realize that there are different "degrees" of practice among Catholics. For many, there are threads on which they grasp, threads that are the remnants of what was once a lived faith. I firmly believe that these threads can be lifelines that keep people afloat in a society and world that defines lifelines as money, power, wealth, success, over-achievement. The list goes on. There is something inside all of us, no matter our "degree" of Catholicism, that beckons us to something beyond ourselves, our society, and our world. And I am convinced that that "something" is the person and presence of Jesus Christ, the source of all our hope.

Over the past several days, moving through some of my own personal struggles and difficulties, I have had a song in my heart, John Angotti's Hold On. If found this recording of the piece performed live at a concert on the East Coast. For "those Catholics," and for all who, like me, have our moments of struggle, take the time to listen.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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