February 23, 2009

Risk It

By Rusty Montgomery *

"Are you capable of risking your life for someone? Do it for Christ." Pope John Paul II

May the Lord give you His peace!

Well it is that time again. Get in your last big meals, bowls of ice cream and handfuls of candy. Lent is upon us! I hope that it brings a sense of desire or determination to your heart rather then a roll of the eyes. It seems that the same question we asked in Advent will apply to Lent as well:

What is going to make the Lent of 2009 different then the previous years?

So often the critical seasons of the Church year slip by and we have not changed or opened our hearts up to what the Lord wants to do in our lives. What is going to make this year different? It is time to take a risk…

I have noticed in the last few years of interacting with young people and in my personal growth that among many things we young have in common, one is that we all like to play it safe. You know, it is the whole idea of going to Mass on Sunday, but never thinking to go any other day of the week. Or it is enjoying the perks of being a part of the "popular" lunch table at school and never really taking the time to branch out or possibly sit by those who are in need of a friend. Or it is the weekend, and we have been meaning to stand up to our friends about partying and all that comes along with it. But instead, we go along with it because the conversation seems too difficult to have. We are wasting away in comfort and safety and it has left us numb to what real and necessary. How much longer can we go on?

My friends, I understand that taking risks is hard and not always comfortable. I understand that the cost of making certain choices for faith and goodness are incredibly high. I understand the sacrifices also are at the cost of so-called friends, status, or opportunities. But I think it is safe to say the outcome of playing it safe is far more damaging in the end. Our Church and all those on the side of both reclaiming what is lost and redirecting the way in which our culture is headed, see the immediate need to take risks. Our Pope in the beautiful quote at the beginning of the column is straightforward and to the point. And let’s face it, we are all capable of taking risks and the time is now to make them for Christ.

This Lent, let’s not play it safe with the sacrifices we make or the areas in which we give ourselves. The Holy Father and Church call us to make a commitment to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. How is your prayer going to be different this Lent? Maybe it is setting aside time after school or before going to bed to pray the Rosary, read the scriptures, or take in some quiet time. Let this not just be another great suggestion, but truly think how you can get it done over the next 40 days. Take the risk. How is your fasting - or giving something up - going to be different this year?

I heard a funny story a speaker once said about us when we get to Heaven. We will get there and some great saint who was martyred for the faith will ask us to tell him or her something exciting about our life and we will say, "Well I guess I gave up chocolate for Lent one year." Talking about playing it safe! This year, let us make ourselves uncomfortable and deny the things that we are used to. Turn the radio off in the car on the way to and from school. Take a cold shower and offer it up for those who need prayers. Run an extra mile, don’t eat between meals, kneel on the floor instead of the kneeler, or instead of watching TV or movies, read a book or have a good conversation with someone. Take a risk and truly deny yourself this Lent.

Lastly, how is our almsgiving going to be different this Lent? You know what? We spend a lot of unnecessary money as young people. Fast food, designer clothes, night at the movies etc. During Lent instead of going out to eat, or buying the designer jeans, or going to the movies with your friends, take that money and put in the collection basket at church. And if you don’t have money to give, volunteer at school or church or - God forbid - at home! Give more of yourself this Lent! Take the risk!

Playing it safe is easy and hasn’t gotten us anywhere. It time to start taking risks and giving Jesus more of ourselves. Make this Lent what the Lord wants it to be. A time of prayer, denying ourselves, and give more of what we have.

The cost is high but as we all will see, so worth it.

God Bless You,


Rusty is a seminarian at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Nebraska and is the co-founder of Live Greater Ministries. The ministry's aim is to invite the youth of the Church into a dialogue about the present culture and how Jesus invites us to a relationship with him, finding true happiness and greater purpose.  More information can be found on their website at www.livegreater.net.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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