Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lent, Coffee and Spirituality

So we are about half way through Lent, the 40 day period leading up to Easter and the holiest period for Christians.

I'm in the club. Raised Catholic, attended Catholic grade school and now raising my three (soon to be four) children in the church.

I'm observant, attending mass weekly in addition to teaching Sunday school (fifth graders) for over ten years. I love fifth graders because they are "young adults" and on the verge of so much, including deciding for themselves whether to attend mass. All I can do is help strengthen the roots and branches, along with their parents.

It's not easy rounding everyone up for two hours of church and school on Sunday. My son Thomas used to say "How many more songs?"

Two stories regarding religion and kids:

Years ago I was in the habit of letting one of my kids place the collection envelope in the basket. It became a big deal because I based it on who was behaving well. One Sunday I forgot the check but had an extra envelope, which I sealed and gave to Thomas, age 7. We were in the second row, and as the usher came towards the front with the basket my son held up the envelope, saw that it was empty, stood up (my wife and daughter were between us) and exclaimed, "Dad, there's no money in here." It was on that day that I started to give online.

Another time I was walking in downtown Chicago with Nora and Thomas, then age 8, when we passed a panhandler. He asked for money and I politely said, "Sorry not today." Later when we stopped for lunch Nora asked why I didn't give him money and I explained that we donate money to organizations which provide food and shelter to those in need, and that we are told in the bible to help the poor.

Boy was I proud. We got home and Nora began explaining to my wife about the man on the sidewalk. With a big smile on my face I asked Nora to explain to Tania why we didn't give the man money and she said, with true conviction, "WE DON'T GIVE MONEY TO THOSE PEOPLE!"

Can I get a witness?

I've always tried to be a moral compass for my children, and one of the highest compliments I received was from a friend who said I "blend spirituality and religion in a way few others do." Early on with them I focused on two things: 1) We are all God's children and 2) The golden rule.

I remind my kids (and students) that Lent is about giving and observing as much as sacrifice. For several years now I have given up coffee for Lent. I am not a happy camper for the first couple of days, but as I say to my kids, going without my morning jolt is nothing compared to Jesus dying for our sins. I also try to attend daily mass more often and read daily meditations. Most years I have to get past kids wanting to give up broccoli or school. Some things never change.

The God I pray to loves everyone. In terms of my Catholic faith I am moved by Gary Wills and his book "Why I am a Catholic." The Creed is the essence of my faith.

Religion is a personal experience, one that ebbs and flows. Right now I am in a good place spiritually and feeling great about my life and all of the blessings it brings. I love my work, advising people who are rich by any definition. Yet I am truly a wealthy man.

No comments:

Post a Comment