Lenten Reflections


Lent 2

Midway through Lent I decided it would be good idea to post my humble reflections on what this Lent meant to me and how I have learned from it. I decided the best time to do that was during Holy Week, so after much procrastination, I am writing this on Holy Saturday evening…essentially the last possible minute!

MATHEMATICS

From the above heading, it may seem that I am about to make a math class out of a Lenten conversation. That isn’t too far from the truth, because one of the main things we observe in Lent is subtraction. We take things out of our life in order to help us appreciate them more, help us understand our own weaknesses, and in the end of it all we hope to grow closer to God. We do this by saying “no” to worldly attractions and give our attention to Christ and his message.

Lent 1

In mathematical terms that is as follows:

Sean – (Chocolate + Coffee) = nicer, more humble, more peaceful, more Christlike Sean

Well, that’s in an ideal world.

Moving on, it is possibly slightly less common to see people add things to their life during Lent. Through addition, we add things to our life that are designed to bring us closer to God. The most basic example is spending more time in prayer. I for one made a special effort during this Lent to get to at least one extra Mass every week, usually Friday. I was also more strict about morning/evening prayer and tried to add in an extra rosary in during the week (to be honest in some weeks, 1 rosary is “extra”). The idea of addition in Lent is really just about spending more time in the presence of, or in conversation with, God.

Next up; division. The classic division class involves a pie. Let’s start with that. We have any number of pies in our life: our finances, our belongings, our relationships, and our time. I think Lent is a great time to look at all those pies and see what parts of them that we can spare for others. You may not be able to give from one pie this lent, but there might be another pie that you can just about empty. For example, my belongings pie is currently very small, but my time pie is big. So, I made an effort, a poor one at that, to give more of my time to others.

I think on a wide level, the most common Lenten reform is the use of subtraction, but realistically addition and division is just as important, but none of these are exlusive by any means. This leads me to a conclusion that defies the laws of mathematics as we know it:

Theory of Lenten Mathematics.

Addition and Subtraction and Division = Multiplication

Multiplication of what? Graces!

Boom! By adding more Christ to our lives, subtracting our wants, and dividing up the gifts we are given, we can multiply our Graces. No wonder they call me Baby Einstein…or is that just my crazy hair?!

In theory, I clearly have this Lent thing down A++!

In practice; however, I think I can realistically say that I barely passed.

TIDBITS OF GOSPEL

I don’t know about you, but as every Lent passes, I always feel like my own self inflicted subtractions, additions, and divisions become a little bit stale. Therefore, it is often nice to get an idea for something from an outside source.

The pastor at the small parish I go to, Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, would have small lines of the gospel of the day handed out to all the parishioners. He asked us to take these home with us and meditate upon them during the week. This provided me with a great addition from an outside source and I was more than willing to oblige. Below are some of the passages and my brief reflection.

Through wilderness

  • “Through the wilderness” – My meditations often end up, or begin as, pure daydreaming. So, when I first read this passage, I couldn’t help but think of being back in the woods as a young boy in Virginia romping around with my friends on a warm summer day. Upon more serious thought, I realized that “going through the wilderness” is a journey; ultimately a journey to Christ. However, being in the wilderness also entails the notion of being lost, or at least unaware of the way ahead. I thought to myself that this is true for everything in life, we are never sure what lies ahead in our journey. Personally, it made me think about my footballing journey in England. I’m not aware where it will lead, but I must be sure that it can bring me closer to Christ.
  • He did not know what he was saying” – I found this a really humbling passage, because it is so often the case for me (ie: this entire post). Some of the things we argue over, complain about, or believe are important are so often completely irrelevant to God. Yet, he remains patient and kind, while teaching us by word and example what is truly important.Manure
  • “And manure it” – so there is such a thing as “Holy Crap”! Alright borderline blasphemy, I’m sorry. In this passage, the manure is being used as a fertilizer for the fig tree that does not bear fruit (i think), which represents us. So, again, a somewhat humbling passage…we need to be manured when we don’t bear fruit. As a matter of fact, even when we are bearing fruit, we want to ask the gardener to heap even more manure on so we bear even more! I realized that the manure represents those things which we don’t necessarily want to do, but must do in order to become better, more Christlike people (ie: the subtractions, additions, divisions). Ultimately, we need to be manured in order to get to Heaven.
  • “He was lost and is found” – Boy o boy, how many times has this applied to us! Lost everyday me! God is always bestowing me with gifts and I am constantly throwing them away, only to come crawling back (aka: confession). This passage always makes me thankful that we have such a forgiving, providing, and loving God.
  • Week 5 I went to Mass at a the Cathedral in Leeds and did not think to find my own phrase. This helped me realize how useless I am on my own.
  • Week 6 was Palm Sunday and they did not hand them out. However, funnily enough, the part of the Gospel (of the Passion) I remember thinking about was when the Apostle cut off the servants ear. At first I was thinking how hard it would be to cut someone’s ear off without seriously harming the rest of their head. However, upon further reflection I decided that the message was that violence is not the answer to any injustice; even the taking of an innocent Jesus to trial and death.

prodigal son

Well, that is my 6+ weeks of Lent jammed into a small post. Overall, this Lent made me realize how useless I am without the help of God in my life. I must thank him for every little thing he gives me, and ask him to give me strength to fight evil and temptation, because on my own, I can’t even resist a piece of Chocolate…and that my friends is how I know how weak I am.

One last reminder to you all. The Theory of Lenten Mathematics applies all year long, so add, subtract,  and divide so you can multiply those Graces!

I hope you all had a blessed lent.

Cross

Have a Happy and Joyous Easter!

I, for one, will be happy to dive into the Easter season head first

Peace in the resurrected Christ!

Seano

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Miscellaneous

There are some words in the English language that I always have trouble spelling. Sometimes they are big scary words like “zenzizenzizenic”, but it is just as often everyday words like “tomorrow” – seriously, is it 2 M’s, or 2 R’s, or both?

Spelling Bee

Thanks to modern word processing technology this has become easy to fix in the short term; but, unfortunately, you won’t remember it tomorrow.

It just so happens, coincidentally or not, that the theme, and title, of this very post is one of those words that I can never seem to spell correctly on the first try: miscellaneous. My hope is that, in the end, I will be able to spell the word without second guessing myself and relying on word-check. That, of course, is only the secondary purpose of this article. Entertaining and informing you about my miscellaneous lifestyle is always my primary goal.

The best part about the word miscellaneous is that it covers all bases. This also makes it pretty much useless in certain circumstances. I doubt, for instance, you could use it as an alibi in a court of law. Imagine this conversation:

Prosecuter: “Where were you on the night of March 1st?”
Defendent: “I was at a number of miscellaneous locations”
Prosecuter: “And what was it that you were doing there?”
Defendent: “miscellaneous stuff”
Likely verdict = Guilty

PAST MISCELLANEOUS

Don’t tell my Dad, but my brother Francis, my friend Mike, and I used the word far too often to explain our activities when we were working for him. Miscellaneous, or “Misc.” for short (yea they can’t spell it either) was often used as the explanation for anything from digging a ditch to “testing” the jet-ski after its spring check-up.

To be fair to us, there were some workdays that were extremely miscellaneous. You just can’t fit; “mowed lawn, stained deck, moved logs – again, tidied up shed – again, cleaned windows; went to store to buy 3 nuts and washers, 1 bag of quick-rete, 4 1/2 two-by-fours, 3 one inch PVC elbows, wood glue; and then finally, fixed the toilet…and made sure it worked”, into a one line explanation on an hour sheet.

“Misc. and used the fixed toilet” pretty much says it all.

PRESENT MISCELLANEOUS

You’ve probably guessed by now, but if you were still wondering, my life is currently very miscellaneous. Although that is a fairly accurate answer, I realize it is far from informative. Since I have more than one line on an employee hours sheet, I will try to elaborate upon what the miscellaneous life of a want to be footballer in England is all about.

Playing

Surprise, surprise! One of the things I do is play soccer/football. I train once or twice a week with the team, depending on our game schedule. If we have two games in a week, we only train once, if we only have one game we train twice. Training sessions are usually sharp and enjoyable.

The team has recently hit a rough patch of form in games. In our last 5 games we have only won 1, tied 2, and lost 2. Though we are still sitting in second place in the standings, the leaders have a very commanding grasp of first place. Mathmatically speaking we could still catch them, but realistically, it is their title to lose.

I wrote an article on the team website about going through tough times in a season, and from what I’ve heard, it’s worth a read 😉

I have not been getting much game time myself which, of course, is frustrating. However, it is a situation I have personally been in before – and to be honest, most players who play at a high-level, have been in it before. If you don’t let it break you, it will make you.

I believe that one of my problems, as well as one of my strengths, is my versatility. In other words, my position on the field is – wait for it – miscellaneous. I can and have played in every position on the pitch. I was even thrown in goal in High-School once (not recommended). This can be a huge benefit to a team, but it can be hard for the player. If you are back-up to everyone, then you are in front of no one and thus one of the last on the team sheet.

jack of all

In more general terms; “a jack of all trades is a master of nothing”. I’m working hard to become a master of all trades and a jack of nothing!

As always, I have been taking care of myself outside of the team sessions to make sure I am ready when needed. I joined a gym last month for this reason and visit it at least four times a week.

There are plenty of miscellaneous things for me to do there that help me stay fit and healthy; some of my favorite activities are lifting, swimming, sitting in the sauna, and yoga class!

Wait what?!

Awkward!

Awkward!

Yes, you heard it, I started yoga class. So far, I find it a good supplement for the other work that I do. It helps considerably with flexibility and works out little muscles that I often find cause nagging injuries (ie: hip flexors). My opinion is obviously developing, but so far so good!

The most important thing is that I get my touches in with the football. Most days when I don’t have training I try to get at least 1000 touches on the ball. I do all kinds of miscellaneous drills to get them in and find that repetition of basic skills is extremely helpful in being comfortable and confident on the ball in a game environment.

Teaching PE

I am still working part-time in the Physical Education department at the local school. It has been going well and is a great learning experience for me on many different levels.

My responsibilities are, you guessed it, pretty much miscellaneous. I do focus on helping out primarily with the football, but since it is not football during every period – which it arguably should be – I get to help out with other sports as well. As often as not, I am learning  as well as teaching. Luckily there are some overriding themes throughout all sports that can be taught regardless of one’s knowledge of their specific rules and regulations: honesty, teamwork, sportsmanship, hard-work, and humility…just to name a few.

I also took over the year 10 (about Freshman in High-school) school football team, which I really enjoy. They got themselves into a stick of trouble earlier in the year and thus lost game privileges, so it is just training for now. So far they have been excellent and if they keep up the good work, I am hoping they can earn a few games later in the year.

One of highlights from the last few weeks has also been going to the driving range with a lucky group of lads, who are doing an extra golfing credit. There is a qualified instructor who runs the show, I just reinforce his words, while improving my short game!

Classy

Classy

Overall, it is nice to work with smaller groups than usual and see firsthand improvement in their golfing and/or football skills, as well as their attitudes and personal development.

Booking Manager

Thanks to the internet, I am able to continue to work for my Dad all the way over here in England. Although I can’t fix toilets anymore, I help him with the bookings at his many beautiful vacation rentals. It is a good opportunity for me and gives me valuable business experiences, particularly in customer service.

It also is a constant reminder of home. Every time I book someone in I am jealous of them, because I want to be them, on vacation in the Shenandoah Valley, relaxing in the sun on the Shenandoah River.

It’s an easy sell.

Sunset to die for over the Shenandoah River

Sunset to die for over the Shenandoah River

I can’t wait to go back home!

Until then, check back here for more info on these miscellaneous thoughts of mine.

As always, go head-first!

Peace,

Seano

PS: For the record, I have never ever used “zenzizenzizenic” in a spoken or written sentence. It means a number raised to the eighth power. I just found it on this obscure word website, and there is some ridiculous words worth remembering on there!