Are you playing games this Lent?

By Father Dennis Meinen
View from the Scooter

“Olly olly oxen free” is a catchphrase used in such children’s games as hide and seek to indicate that players who are hiding can come out into the open without losing the game.

There is a story about a small boy who had the habit of coming home late from school after playing games. One day his parents warned him to be home on time, but he still came back late as usual. So, they decided to teach him a lesson.

At dinner that night, the boy was served only a slice of bread and a glass of water, while his father had a full plate of food before him. The poor boy looked with hungry eyes at his father’s full plate and with pleading eyes at his father. The father waited for the full impact to sink in; then, he quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy and smiled at his son.

When that boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.” What his father did was take on himself the punishment and suffering that rightly belonged to his son.

This is called atonement or substitutive suffering. That is what Christ did for us. And that is what the church invites us all to do in the period of Lent.

Carry your cross! Once a priest preaching a Lenten sermon shouted out at his people, “Don’t drag your cross this Lent. Glory in it! Lift it up!”

And a woman of ample proportions in the front pew grabbed her pint-sized husband and lifted him up. Why not, if he was her cross? But seriously, we don’t need to go searching for crosses. We need only accept the ones we have.

Have you been playing games this Lenten season, losing your focus on what is essential and true?  Why not center yourself by praying this prayer daily during the remaining days of Lent:

Behold, O good and sweetest Jesus,

I cast myself upon my knees in thy sight

and with the most fervent desire of my soul,

I pray and beseech thee to impress upon my heart

lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity,

with true repentance for my sins and a most firm desire of amendment:

whilst with deep affection and grief of soul

I consider within myself and mentally contemplate thy five Most Precious Wounds

having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet, long ago spoke

in thine own person concerning thee, my Jesus:

“They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones.”

Let us pray for the grace to observe the Lenten season in such a way as to purify our consciences and join Christ in the suffering of atonement for the good of all sinners living and dead.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix; and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.


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