Leaping Forward in Holiness

Early in life we are taught that there are 365 days in a year.

As we get older, we learn the reason there are 365 days in a year is because it takes Earth 365 days to make a full orbit around the sun. But we also learn that every four years there is a Leap Year with 366 days, with February having 29 days instead of 28.

So, is the annual orbit 365 days or 366 days? It is neither. It takes Earth 365 days, 6 hours, and 9 minutes to make a full orbit around the sun.

The “extra day” added in Leap Years is an adjustment to keep the months of our calendar, and therefore the seasons of the year, at roughly the same part of Earth’s annual orbit around the sun. Without this adjustment, over the century the seasons would slowly drift forward through the calendar year.

Adding a Leap Day allows us to maintain a regular routine for life, a regular pattern for religious and social customs and celebrations.

From the first moment of our conception, we set forth on a spiritual journey.

Unlike Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun, we are created for a straight-line trajectory to eternal life with our loving God in Heaven.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He guides us to perfect communion with God and with one another. He leads us to eternal glory.

Unfortunately, due to Original Sin and our personal sins, we often drift off this straight-line path to eternal union with God. We are sheep that often go astray rather than always following directly after the Good Shepherd.

Our Lenten Season is a gift from God given to us through His Church. It is a time for us to make the spiritual adjustments that are necessary to get us back on the straight path to the heart of God.

Jesus teaches us the way to holiness is to embrace wholeheartedly the three spiritual disciplines of Lent: prayer, fasting, and works of charity. Through these disciplines, Jesus renews His life and love within us and leads us to abiding peace and joy.

Jesus reminds us to take time for prayer every day. He teaches us to enter daily into a sincere and honest conversation with God. This daily conversation transforms our perspective on life and assists us in redirecting our priorities. It leads us to use our God-given gifts in service to God and neighbor.

Jesus reminds us to embrace the self-discipline of fasting from legitimate goods and pleasures so we can learn how to correctly respond to our feelings and desires. Fasting teaches us not to act on impulse, but to choose consciously and wisely our words and actions. Fasting teaches us to accurately evaluate both the immediate and long-term consequences of our choices. Fasting frees us from the false notion that the constant accumulation of material goods and wealth can satisfy our inner longing for fulfillment and happiness.

Jesus reminds us to not to be self-centered, but instead, to look beyond the horizon of our needs and wants, so we can clearly see and comprehend the suffering of the sick, the poor, the vulnerable, the outcast, and the brokenhearted. He teaches us how to generously respond to them with loving works of charity.

May our Lenten disciplines bring about the spiritual adjustments we need to get back on the straight path to holiness. May they help us experience the peace, joy, and freedom that can only be found in faithfully following the Good Shepherd.

By Father Jerome Tauber, Vicar for Religious and Chaplain of St. Luke’s Hospital – Bethlehem Campus.


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