Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent Begins

And we begin again to make the first feeble step away from ourselves and towards God.

Off the grey, cold coast of Ireland lies a rock called Skellig Michael, where brave monks retreated in order to preserve the Holy Scriptures. Some consider that these monks, who risked everything to preserve the bible from destruction by Viking marauders, are the saviors of Western Christianity. On a clear day the rock is visible from the shore, but on this day, we had to take that truth by faith and not by sight. 

There are now in the world, outward signs of the seriousness of our inward condition.  For a few decades we were left to our illusions but now, mercifully, we are having our eyes opened.  Systems, the status quo, and our own personal security seem to be failing.  The bible says that the things that are unseen are actually more real than the things that are seen. We see, in the tangible world, merely a reflection of the fragility of our own souls, and begin to get the slightest sense that we cannot take anything for granted here in this life and in what awaits us afterward.  May we look down at our feet this Lent, and see the cracks and fissures forming on the wide road upon which we have been carelessly traveling.

Lent is for grown-ups. Time to look with unveiled eyes at the suffering of Our Lord for our sake, the condition of our souls, and at the suffering of creation itself.  We can start today to come away from our pleasures and routines, and tarry awhile with the Lord each day. When we "give something up for Lent" we deny ourselves in order to unite our tiny bit of suffering to that of His.

We can take more time each day to pray and to meditate on the life of Jesus, and ask for a place of solitude within our hearts where we may meet with Him and hear what He has to say to us.  He is always faithful to give us glimpses and inspirations of what His will is for us and how we can cooperate with Heaven to do the works He has given us to do.

And there certainly is a lot we can do, as Christ's body on earth. There is so much wrong out there, a lot of things that need improving, and a lot we can do to help other people. Almsgiving, the other aspect of Lent, allows us to share what we have been given with others who are in need. Our money, our precious time, even the use of our minds in the pursuit of developing new ways to solve old problems, are all things that we should give freely during this season of penitence.

We do not do any of these things for a reward, but for the love of Christ, and in solidarity with His suffering, and in pursuit of a closer walk with Him. Generous as He is, however, He insists on rewarding us with joy, strength and all good things when we in our frailty attempt to live out the Gospel life. That is just the way He is, you know; He is always picking up the tab, and buying the next round.

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. No greater love is there than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend. We love Him, because He first loved us..........

For God so loved the world, that He gave up His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believeth in Him, should have everlasting life.

May we all make a good and fruitful Lent.

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