Dear Family and Friends of Santi Apostoli,
When I was a kid, I remember hockey camp in the summer. It was a week long.
We would have on ice training and off ice training. It was tough. We would run drills and then we reviewed the videos, we would have off ice training in the heat… there wasn’t the pleasure of practicing for an upcoming weekend game... there would be an NHL player to present to help train, instill hope and encourage us. Everything was geared towards the fall when hockey would start up again. It was tough in the present, but focused on the future. I remember being filled with hope and passion. A number of kids did go on to play high level hockey and some eventually made it to the NHL. It was tough, but it made us better hockey players. It was training to be the best we could be… and I loved it! I loved it because I love hockey. I love the speed, the finesse, the incredible hand-eye coordination, how tough and physical it is, the sound of skates cutting through the ice and the sound of a perfect pass, the passion, the dedication, the feeling of scoring a goal, a great assist, a solid hit, or winning a game. I love it. The training and the sacrifice were worth it because I love the game!
We are about to start Lent. I’m the first one to say, “Oh no! Not Lent! Lent is tough, it’s long, it’s challenging, it’s not Christmas or Easter… it’s kind of boring and dry and difficult!” But I’ve been thinking, especially since the Super Bowl… I’ve been thinking of how many hours athletes dedicate to training.
Today is the last Sunday before Lent! We read in today’s Gospel that Jesus challenges us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. This challenge of Jesus combined with Jesus’ revelation of the Father, reminds us that the Father is perfect love. We are called to love! We are called to become love as God is love. We have been created to love God and our brothers and sisters and let’s be honest, we fall short. We often love less than we are called to and at times don’t love at all. It’s like our hearts are longing to love totally, but we don’t let it or there are things in our lives that don’t allow it to. Lent is a time to train the muscle of our hearts to love. It’s a time to purify our hearts from what is not love like selfishness, laziness, pride, hatred, anger, etc. It’s a time for “hockey camp”, “training camp”, “boot camp” for love! So I want to give three tips:
Get a trainer asap. A personal trainer that will help you grow in love these weeks. Some call it “spiritual accompaniment”.
Write down how great your desire to love is and the things that hold you back from loving like selfishness, egoism, laziness, pride, hatred, vanity, activism, fear of healthy conflict, lack of love for yourself, negative self-talk, not loving others… whatever it is.
Together with your personal trainer, decide on a small program for this Lent, a “training program in love”, to prepare you for the game of life that is love. Make sure prayer is a key element. Ask God for the grace to have a heart of love always more like his because in the end it’s a grace and he wants your free collaboration. And talk to your trainer often this Lent about how your growth in love is coming along.
I think changing the Lent chip by focusing on loving more and receiving more love from God, makes it exciting, a challenge, difficult yes, but you can live it with passion. If you would train for hockey, football, soccer, dance, school, career, etc. why would you not do it for love?
At the end of our lives, as St. John of the Cross says, “We will be judged on our love.”
Have a great week! If you need anything, never hesitate to ask me.
God bless you and your loved ones, Fr. Kramer Cameron, LC