February 26, 2009

From My Pastor

Letter to the parishioners:

Lent really is a unique time of year. There seems to be something renewing in it. It's a time to unload many things in our lives that have become burdesome. The whole role of confession and preparation for redemption gives us a chance to start over again if we use the opportunity. It's a time to think of sacrifice, of the needs of others, of the goodness of God. We are challenged a bit to unload the superfluous in our daily routine and turn a little more to things that are very important - the things of the soul and of the heart.

[Lent] is an invitation to walk with Christ for a few weeks and end up closer to Him on the feast of the Resurrection. Even if we stumble along rather than really walk, even that will get us further than we were when it all began.
How very pastoral, in the good sense of the word, is that? Lots of "mustard seed" imagery: "a bit", "a little more", "stumble". It encourages you to try because it makes it manageable.

A couple images deeply reasonate from other sources. One is that Lent is a tithe of our year to God. How reasonable to give God a tenth of our year! Second is that this is a "season of grace". I heard that for the first time a couple years back and it struck a chord.

The first week is bracing and exciting. Later Lent less so, for me at least. If we dread Purgatory and to a lesser extent Lent, perhaps the former is like the first week of Lent - dread beforehand until you actually get into it, when it feels medicinal and health-restoring. I'm sure there are souls who welcome Purgatory but I suspect they are the ones who go directly to Heaven! :-)


Anonymous said...

Dear TSO,

Perhaps it is a mind-shift. If you were preparing for a marathon by extending your present exercise regime, you would at first have a little high and then you would be caught in the tedium of having to gradually increase what you were doing to achieve your goal. Nevertheless, the goal would remain clear and if you were committed to the end, the tedium would vanish in the sure knowledge that only through the exercise could the goal be attained. (It would soon be replaced by another more forceful tedium, undoubtedly, after all, we're human). But tedium comes to Lent more readily when we think in terms of tithe, and owing, and other such things than in terms of invitation to the Boston Marathon. You've been chosen among all people to run and win the race. (We need, for a moment to ignore the fact that so has the entire human race, because we do not race against each other but only against our lesser selves). You know that if you train and if you choose it, you can win--it is assured and it isn't "fixed". The race is real, the outcome is assured.

That's how I look at Lent. I don't know whether or not I owe it as a tithe of the year (if so, then I would owe more than these days--but that's a different issue). It isn't sacrifice for the sake of it or anything else but a bracing invitation that will require effort and endurance on our part, but an effort and endurance that requires the activity of the will but the strength of the HOly Spirit. We don't run the race alone and we can't do it by ourselves.

I go on too long--you get the point.

Great post.



Gregg the obscure said...

The one that resounds for me is that Lent is the time for new growth. Just as growing to full height involved discomfort and clumsiness, so too does growing in more important matters.