A timeout for Catholics

By Fr. Reno Aiardi, IMC

 Prayerful best wishes for a blessed, enriching and Holy Lenten Season. Thank you for thinking, praying and sharing in mission during this Holy Season of Lent.

 We deeply appreciate and thank you for everything you do for Rice Bowl during Lent 2013. Only God can reward you properly for what you will do for the poor in the care of the Propagation of the Faith, Missionary Childhood Association and CRS Rice Bowl.


 While I was visiting a family with grandchildren, two of the young grandchildren got into a little fight. They were placed in a “time out” as punishment. When I was growing up, my parents were much more prone to administer corporal punishments in the form of “spankings” for misbehavior. Today, parents hope that by invoking the “time out” rule, the child will learn their lesson. If I were to describe the season of Lent as “40 days of time out,” it might be easy to assume that Lent must be a punishment for misdeeds.

 The Church does not see it that way. To understand our use of Lenten “time out,” think about a time out in the context of sports. In sports such as basketball or football time outs are strategic moments used for planning, to change direction or control momentum. Time outs are crucial to a team’s effort in winning. They are not penalties afflicted on the team; they are assets reserved for use at a critical point in the game. They are used for focusing, regaining perspective and to make needed changes. A time out is when you huddle with your coach, leaving the court or field of play just long enough to renew your energy and to focus your effort on the rest of the game. This is the Church’s understanding of Lent. Lent is a season of time out from the hectic rush of life; and opportunity to “huddle up” for counsel and reflection, a time to focus on what really matters.  

 May this season of Lent be just such a time out for each of us and let it be a time to huddle closer to God to gain confidence through our prayer, fasting and works of charity. Let us use this Lenten time out to review the basics for playing on God’s team, remembering who we really are as God’s children. Forty days seems like a long time for a time out, but it can be a good one if we use it wisely.

 Fr. Reno Aiardi is Director of the Mission Office and pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Riverside.