In these early days of Lent when we are reminded of the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving and the grace that these practices offer us, we can easily forget that Lent is not about perfecting the practice of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These disciplines are a means to a deeper relationship with the Lord and a stronger commitment to service.
Today, I want to share with you the homily that Fr. Scott Hurd preached in Saint Ursula’s chapel at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. For me, it captures what a “successful” Lent can do for me! With thanks to Fr. Hurd.
For many of us- and I include myself- the first thing we do in the morning is reach for the snooze bar! However, there are some Catholics who make it a practice to immediately rise from bed, kneel on the floor, and pray the word “Serviam,” which is Latin for “I will serve you, God.” This is an intentional echo of St. Michael the Archangel’s pledge of service to God, a contrast to Satan’s “I will not serve.”
In service to the Lord
This little prayer, “Serviam,” is a reminder that our vocation- our purpose in life- is to serve God, serve the Church, and serve our fellow human beings. Our Lord stressed this very point in today’s gospel: If we wish to follow him we must deny ourselves; we are to lose our lives for his sake and that of the gospel. To put it another way, Christianity is more about what we can do for Jesus, than it is about what Jesus can do for us. The Christian life is one not of selfishness, but surrender; not of self-fulfillment, but of self-sacrifice; not of self-service, but of service to the Lord.
So perhaps the prayer in our heart today might be “Serviam,” as we leave this Mass with the dismissal, “Go forth to love and serve the Lord.”