Thursday, March 3, 2011
In a week, the Church will begin a new season, a period taken out of the year for a specific purpose,repentance.This is not a warm fuzzy word.It implies guilt and need.This is one that causes me to want to turn away.If I need to repent then that means I am not the perfect being I think I am.Ouch.This is a time for me to turn and focus again on what is important.
Next Wednesday, the priest will put ashes on my forehead and in a very politically incorrect manner,will remind me that I am going to die.He will intone:"Remember man that you are dust and into dust you shall return"Whap!
It is my belief that Lent saved my mother's life.One year when I was 12 or so, she put away her Phillip Morris cigarettes and for forty days she was smokeless.She did this as a deprivation, a sacrifice to align herself with her sacrificial Lord.I wonder now how hard that was for her, a smoker since the age of twenty.Years later, when a relative was dying of lung issues, she stopped again for good.She knew that she could do it because of her previous experience.She was with us until the age of 83.
One Lent when I was a kid, I gave up The Long Ranger radio show,my favorite, for the fourty days.Lo and behold,in that time frame the story of how the Ranger became masked and found Tonto was to be revealed.I SO wanted to hear that! I did something else instead of listening and a small part of me knew that it took strength to make that sacrifice.That is a good thing for me to know about myself,I think;that I can say no to my whims.
Fr.Thomas Keating,a Trappist monk,says that to repent means to change the direction in which you are looking for happiness.Oh.It is going into the desert without my T.V,and P.C,with a minimum of distraction and seeking God.
I need this reminder each year and so I am getting ready.These words help:
Yet even now ,says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting,with weeping,and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord,your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger,and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
This wonderful invitation is offered to all of us..."Come back,I am here and I have what you need for happiness.Just turn and you will find Me."