I Dare You!

This article from the author’s Facebook page is being used with the permission of the author.

A Facebook post by Fr. John Cusick, a Chicago Peoples Priest  March 18, 2016

In high school everyone had to eat lunch every day in the cafeteria.  And like most cafeterias, you took a try, silverware, a napkin, and a beverage.  The “main course” was placed on a large plate and handed to each student from the kitchen.

There were no choices.  Everybody got the same “main course” and everybody had to eat (or give away) everything on the plate.  It had to be returned empty.  And there was a priest standing there making sure you ate everything.  (How about that for a priestly ministry!)

The cafeteria lunch on Fridays during Lent was always interesting.  One year the Lenten Friday lunch was the lowest of the low.

“What is that?” was the common question as the lunch plate was handed to each student.  “Tunies.”  “What’s a Tunie?”

It looked like a common ordinary hotdog.  But it was Friday in Lent so it couldn’t be a hotdog.  “It IS a hot dog made with tuna fish.”

Bull.  Yuck!  Starving animals would not eat a tunie.

Now the challenge was how to get it in the garbage without being seen by the priest.  The easiest way was to cut it up and put it in the empty milk carton.  But the priest caught on quickly.  (I suppose that was because he had a graduate degree in theology!”  So now what could we do?

Pockets!  Guys always have a lot of pockets.  So the tunies made their way into pants pockets.  Some were wrapped in the lunch napkin.  Others went naked into varies pockets.

We will do almost anything to avoid things we don’t like, won’t we?”

Well for this last Lenten Friday I am suggesting that we fast from something we don’t like and would not freely choose.  And maybe something that would be very difficult even to try…for one day.

Our 5 weeks of Lent have been built around the 3 classic spiritual activities of prayer, almsgiving and fasting, reflection, generosity and discipline.’’

A week ago I printed a list of “fasting from” Lenten practices written by Pope Francis.  That list appears here, too.

Pope Francis—Lent, 2016

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gladness.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
  • Fast from worries and trust in God
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen

My suggestion is to find the most difficult “fasting from” on that list and try it for one day.

My guess is that we would never put it on our tray in the spiritual cafeteria line.  And if it found its way to our spiritual plate, it would go in the garbage without ever being tasted.

Let’s toughen up our act.  Let’s try something difficult.  Fast from something we would never do without a suggestion (or challenge) from someone else.  We begin Holy Week when we commemorate Palm Sunday.

Throughout that week we remember the betrayal, the suffering, the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.  That is pretty tough stuff to recall.

Let us prepare for Holy Week by toughening up our Faith.  What is the most difficult item on the Pope’s list to try today?  Can you?

If not, what is your number 2?  Try that one.

I dare me.

I dare you.

Have a Blessed Palm Sunday.

John Cusick

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