Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Lent!!!

Ok, I'm sure some of you are probably wondering just what in the hell I am so excited about with the three exclamation points in the title.  Lent is one of my favorite times of the year, and today being Ash Wednesday, it behooves me to write something about it.

When I was a kid, it was always about 'giving something up' for Lent, and every year I did just that.  One year I even announced to my mother that I was giving up Lent for Lent, but the requisite slap put that idea to rest really fast.  As I got older, the giving-up-something aspect moved to a more serious 'what can I do to change myself and my life for the good?'

Giving up things is good - it shows us that we can do without particular goods, items, and wants.  But ultimately, we can do it because we know that we will be getting them back in 46 short days (if you include the Sundays).  Fundamental change of our lives is a little more difficult, and is rife with failure.  I have failed many times in my attempts to do this, only to fall back on some temporary sacrifice of a minor item.  It's an eternal struggle, just as anyone trying to do the right thing can attest.

I like the starkness of Ash Wednesday - it's a day to contemplate our own mortality, such as the words of the Book of Genesis - for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.  When I receive ashes, I like to hear those particular words.  There's nothing necessarily wrong with the statement "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel", but if there ever was a day (other than Good Friday) to contemplate what exactly the 'wages of sin' (Romans 6:23) are, this day is it. 

The forty days of Jesus in the desert, in which he fasts and reverses the sins of Israel from the days after the Exodus, provides a model for us to follow.  No matter how great the temptation is (materialism, vanity, or power), we have the example to reject sin and all the works and empty promises of the Father of Sin.  It's not an accident that the final words of the prayer directly attributed to Jesus are lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  

Kyrie Eleison.

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