Thursday, April 04, 2019

A Lenten Journey

Washington National Cathedral
It's very deep into Lent, and I must confess that I've been woefully indecisive about what my Lenten discipline would be this year. My bright idea of giving up snacks didn't last a week. A feeble attempt to forego my weekend glasses of wine was laughably unsuccessful. By the second week of Lent, I felt like a spiritually bereft weakling.

So I gave up on "giving up" and stuck with my longtime Lenten practice of reading a spiritually themed book. This year, the book is To Light a Fire on the Earth, by Robert Barron and John Allen. It's hardly a sacrifice; the book is so interesting to read, I'm almost finished. Barron is the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles since 2015, but he is also the founder of and host of 2011's PBS award-winning series, CATHOLICISM.

Barron pioneered Catholic evangelizing on YouTube, and that's where I first saw him. About ten years ago I stumbled across a batch of Barron's YouTube videos, and I've been following him ever since. If you'd like an easy introduction into how affable, smart, and approachable he is, watch Barron's two-part interview on The Rubin Report. It's proof that civil discourse is still possible in this country, no matter how deep the debate.

But back to Lent. I decided to check the Netflix menu for seasonal offerings and found some timely viewing options that were quite intriguing. Secrets of the Shroud was a fascinating analysis of the renowned Shroud of Turin, which presented a few stunning facts worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. Jesus: Countdown to Calvary was another captivating show, with host Hugh Bonneville interviewing historians, archaeologists, and other experts to examine the last week of Christ's life as a police detective would. What happened, when, and most importantly, why? All good questions, with compelling answers.

I've never thought that Lent is meant to be enjoyed, but so far this year I'm surprised to be doing exactly that. I've learned things I hadn't known about my faith, its origins and mysteries.  I'm going to continue in this read/watch/learn direction for the remainder of Lent. I've got the Eric Metaxas book Miracles queued up to read next.

This is far from the traditional Lenten exercise in self-denial. Yet somehow, I think the Lord approves.