Is being Catholic at the heart of our true identity?

Jeff Hedglen

North Texas Catholic

2/22/2016

We are often asked to introduce ourselves. Typically when this happens we give our name and where we work or go to school. Sometimes we give our family info, and other times we share a hobby or some other random fact about our life. But when we are asked to describe ourselves, do we ever share that we are Catholic?

How much a part of your identity is the fact that you are Catholic or Christian or a believer in Jesus? I recently heard something that really got me thinking. Many times we live the faith like we are wearing a costume; like we are a kid in our favorite pajamas. It is almost like we are pretending. We put on the costume when we go to Mass or some other church function, but when we are with our friends or at work or in the car or out shopping or at home, we are back to our “real self.”

When I reflected on this I started to dwell on the question: What is my true self? At my core who am I? My faith tells me that before I was anything I was the beloved of God. When those two cells met inside my mother, I became someone loved by God and that has never stopped being true. 

The way I live my day-to-day life and maybe more importantly, inside my head, I am often something other than this most fundamental truth. Many of these identities are actually very good things to be: son, brother, husband, friend, employee, parishioner, and citizen. Others are things I am not proud of. I can be selfish, angry, and I tend to procrastinate. I do not do as much as I would like to serve the poor and the community. I do not study the faith as much as I would like, and I certainly do not pray as much as I should. 

To be sure these things are true, but they are not who I am at my core. We can all easily forget who we truly are: beloved of God. I think this is one of the chief aims of the season of Lent. If we take this season seriously, we can set aside all of the other characteristics of who we are and focus on the manifestation of the Father’s love for us made visible by the passion, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

The point of fasting from food and the other items that we give up and the spiritual practices we add in our Lenten journey is to take the focus off of ourselves and turn our eyes upon Jesus. 

Even though Lent has already started, it is not too late to make this the best Lent of your life. Start today by giving up something you will really miss and add a spiritual practice that will really stretch you. Whenever you miss what you gave up, think of the sacrifice God has made for you. God gave his Son and Jesus gave his life. 

Try to have your spiritual practice be something that helps you focus on Jesus. Maybe go to Adoration or visit the tabernacle at your parish. Meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary — don’t just fly through the prayers; daily read part of one of the Gospels; or attend the Stations of the Cross at a local parish. 

Remember that you do not have to be perfect in your Lenten promises; you just have to strive for holiness. All you have to do is reach out beyond your comfort zone. Jesus has already stretched out his hands and is ready to meet you at the cross, where all our effort is joined with his and made holy.

 

We are often asked to introduce ourselves. Typically when this happens we give our name and where we work or go to school. Sometimes we give our family info, and other times we share a hobby or some other random fact about our life. But when we are asked to describe ourselves, do we ever share that we are Catholic?

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