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John Wooden, the legendary college basketball coach, began every season by teaching his players how to properly tie their shoes. These highly skilled Division 1 athletes were forced to literally begin from the ground up before the first practice. Coach Wooden understood that greatness isn’t achieved by moving past the fundamentals but rather committing oneself to the mastery of the basics and remaining dedicated to them day after day.
The spiritual life is no different. Holiness represents the culmination of little daily decisions, actions, virtues and surrenders through which God’s grace lead us to a life that others might identify as extraordinary. As a disciple, we’re never too advanced for the basics of our faith, both in terms of beliefs and behavior. Jesus loves me, I need a savior, God is my Father, daily prayer matters, sacred Scripture is true and the sacraments sanctify, are all examples of these core tenets of our rich and beautiful faith. So instead of a column that overly complicates Lent, let’s review the fundamentals of Growing and Going during this penitential season.
Nothing like a season of fasting and almsgiving to carve out space in our hearts for more prayer. Communion with the Father, intimacy with Christ and Holy Spirit empowerment are non-negotiables for Growing and Going, and all of that happens within the context of prayer. Let’s not talk about praying, let’s actually pray!
St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” We must know what we believe, since how can we love someone if we don’t know them? This Lent, spend more time with God’s word and explore the writings of the saints. Don’t be intimidated by all the Church has to offer, but trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and enlighten you.
We can’t just Grow, we need to Go, we need to give it away. As the Lord fills us up, we have a responsibility to share him and his blessings with others. We don’t lose anything when we serve, but rather expand our capacity to receive more of the Lord. Let’s be generous with our time, talent and treasure, because the Lord is never outdone in generosity and never runs out of grace for his children.
Don’t simply navel-gaze this Lent, rather seek Jesus (Grow) and serve his people (Go). Passionately run the race God has put before you, and don’t forget to tie your shoes!
Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.