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First Sunday of Lent ©

My dear encountered couples:

My dear friends: There is nothing like a good pretzel. What most people don't realize is that pretzels were first baked as a Lenten food.

The pretzel is an ancient bakery item. It goes back to the 5th century. Monks twisted the dough into the familiar pretzel shape to represent arms crossed over the chest, which was the posture for prayer back in those days.

Pretzels would appear on Ash Wednesday and disappear on Good Friday. Since the early Christians did not eat dairy products during Lent, the pretzel with its makeup of flower, salt and water, was an ideal Lenten food.

Maybe during Lent, we could be satisfied with simpler foods and do a little better in sprinkling around the salt of good works.

Several years ago, a Texas newspaper ran an account from an automobile accident. The passers-by carried the unconscious driver to a nearby service station. When the crash victim finally came to and she opened her eyes, she panicked, and struggled to break away.

Later someone asked her why she made such a desperate attempt to get away from those who rescued her. She explained that they had taken her to a Shell Service Station. And, when she opened her eyes, someone was standing in front of the letter “S” and she saw only the last four letters of the sign which “hell” and she is thought she was there.

Lent is that time of the year when we stop and take a good look at the kind of life we are living.

There is a parable about a man who is critically ill in the hospital. A doctor and nurse are busily attending to the man. At the same time a conversation which cannot be heard is taking place between the dying man and his guardian angel.

The angel asks, “Are you ready to go?” The man replies, “Certainly I'm ready. I did some really important things during my years. Sure, let's go.”

The Guardian Angel looked at the dying man's hands, “Those hands of yours have been mighty greedy hands. Maybe a few extra years down here might be helpful to you.”

The Guardian Angel looks at the man's feet and said, “You know you were a very busy man – those feet always took you to work and whatever, but they never had time to bring you to Church and prayer. Maybe a few more years down here might be helpful.”

Next, the Guardian Angel looked at the dying man's torn clothing. “It looks to me that you have been doing more than your share of fighting with your neighbor. “Maybe a few more years down here might do you good.”

Then the Guardian Angel looked at the man and whispered softly, “Would you like to stay around, and try once again? I've left the door of life open to you.” Just then the doctor straightened up and quietly said to the nurse, “The crisis is past -- he will live.”

Sisters and brothers: We all probably need a little more time to go back and seriously reflect on where we've been and where we are going with our lives. We need to focus our attention more and more on the kind of life that Christ lived, to go into the Lenten desert with Christ, with prayer and sacrifice. We need to do things God's way rather than our own way.

During this Lent we might draw a bit closer to our God by fasting, if not fasting from food, maybe by fasting from some entertainment, in order to experience God in some kind of prayer; fasting from shopping for something new and needless in order to share our treasure with those who have so little; fasting from an overly demanding schedule in order to discover the love of family and friends; fasting from anger, impatience and our need to be in control in order to recognize our dependence on God; fasting from anything that separates us from the love of God during this Lenten springtime.

God has given us these 40 days. Will it be living as usual, or will it be something a little better? It was once said that Christianity has failed, but the truth is Christianity has never really been tried. This Lenten season let's see that Christianity is given a try in our lives.

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