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  A Christian Faith Magazine March 2003, Volume 8, Issue 8  
A Thought for Our Time
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Almost any Catholic knows that the season of Lent is a time of sacrifice and self-denial. Whether we give up cigarettes, candy or going to movies, every one of these practices, these sacrifices should remind us of the sacrifice Christ made for us on Good Friday. If we do not connect our personal sacrifice with the personal sacrifice of Christ, then we have lost the meaning of Lent. Lent asks for us to make acts of self-denial during these forty days that we probably never think of making during the entire year.

Each one of us during this Lent, has 1440 minutes that we can use in a spiritual fashion to help us develop a Lenten spirituality that has substance, that has meaning. For example, all of us for years have heard the statement from Christ, "Greater love than this no one has than he who lays down his life for a friend". When you lay down your life for a friend, whom you do not know, that is the highest form of charity with anonymity. Just think of this, we have 250,000 soldiers ready to wage war with Iraq. Those men and women, some of whom will be called to death, some of whom will be injured, some of whom will be making great sacrifices, will be making these sacrifices for us whom they do not know so that you and I can take the 1440 minutes we have per day to make an act of sacrifice for the season of Lent. Did it ever occur to you to take your prayers that you say each day during Lent and offer them for the men and women who are defending our country?

Just think of this. These men and women will be exposed to possibly all types of chemical warfare, they will be subjected to army rations, they will be putting their lives on the line, their sleeping quarters will in no way compare with yours and mine and they will do that day after day, their 1440 minutes and they will be doing it for our four freedoms - speech, religion, press and assembly.

As wonderful as it is, we give up smoking, drinking and movies during Lent for the sake of Christ and union with Christ, don't you think you can stretch your mind to say, "I am going to make a daily sacrifice for all of those soldiers and armed forces personal. I am going to make a sacrifice each day that God will bring them home safely".

When you think of it, there is no question about it, we pray for our family every day. But I am sure a lot of those men and women who will be waging war in Iraq at times feel they are virtually forgotten by people like us. And often times feel that no one is saying a prayer for their safety.

Have you ever thought that there might be brothers and sisters who could be taken from your own family and involved in a conflict like this? Have you ever thought that there might be young men and women from your own area helping us to keep our lifestyle even at the risk of their own lives? Have you ever thought that maybe a visit to the church by you during Lent, a rosary said by you each day during Lent, a small period of mediation by you each day during Lent, that you offer to God on their behalf might be the greatest gift that you might give to them? Prayer in this sense is an act of Patriotism.

Many years ago the great poet John Donne reminded every one that no man is an island that we are all connected to each other. The greatest connection we have towards those defending our lives is through prayer. Your prayer said, my prayer said, for the safety and the protection of others does help. That is our way of performing charity with total anonymity. If you read the writings of St. Paul, you might recall that he said prayer can move mountains. If you read the writings of Tennyson you might recall that he said more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. With prayer you can connect your mind with the minds and prayers of the men and women in Iraq. With prayer you can connect your mind with the mind of Christ. With prayer you can make this Lent not only a season of prayer, but a season of spirituality.

Rev. Mark Connolly

US Soldiers
American soldiers cast long shadows as they line up outside a US Army PX shop at their 'Camp Virginia' in the Kuwait desert March 8, 2003
(Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

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