We spend a lot of our time as Catholics thinking about penance, repentance, and reparation for our sins. Now don’t get me wrong. That’s a good thing.
But as Teresa of Ávila famously said when someone found her relishing a dinner of succulent roast partridge: “There is a time for penance and time for partridges.” Now is the time for partridge.
These hot summer days and long summer nights are a time to rejoice in the world the Lord has given us. Everywhere we look are flowers, fields and fragrance. It would almost be an insult to the Creator to reject such bounty in order to turn this season of plenty into some pale shade of pseudo-Lent.
So I’m going to propose something radical. This month make a point to celebrate with thanks something each and every day. Start by keeping a Gratitude Journal. Every night before you go to sleep, list at least five things that have brought you joy that day. If you are having trouble thinking of five, then think of ten instead! No, I’m not being flippant. The more things you think of to be thankful, the more you will discover in your life.
I’d like to share a little story with you. A friend and I made a pact to call each other once a day and report the blessings and abundance that God had given us. Sometimes it would be as small as finding a quarter on the sidewalk, or as major as getting an unexpected inheritance. For about six months we were faithful. Not a single day passed without our having something wonderful to report.
Then, because we are daughters of Eve, we began to slack off. A few days would go by and then a few more. Finally we were no longer reporting our blessings to each other. One day I got up and realized that it was as if someone had turned off the faucet. The daily blessings that I had almost come to expect seemed to have vanished. I called my friend and discovered she had had the same experience. So once again we committed to telling us other our daily graces. And once again, we both began to experience God’s limitless generosity. For instance, today I got $45.00 worth of groceries for $5.00 because of various promotions and rebates. And I’m not even a coupon collector! It just happened at the checkout without my planning it.
Now I don’t know if the blessings actually stopped or it was just that we stopped paying attention to them, but I know that something changed when I stopped focusing on the blessings in my life and began to concentrate on the lack. It truly seems the less I gave thanks, the less I had to give thanks for.
So I challenge you this month, when our workloads may be a little lighter and we are all in a summer sort of mind, to celebrate the good God gives to each of us. For 31 days, look for blessings wherever you find them. Keep track of them so that when your faith wavers you can come back and look at this month and see what the Lord has done for you.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather live knowing that even if all have penance in our life, we also all have partridges as well.