Today I wish to revisit some of the issues we spoke about on Ash Wednesday, and business as usual.
How is your Lent going? Sometimes we simply cannot continue with “business as usual”. Our “business as usual” is our accommodation with the world. The Church knows that we cannot simply continue with “business as usual”. That is why we have always had Lent.
On Ash Wednesday, I shared with you that something has to give. Something has to change. Our faith cannot simply be an external practice. The words of Ash Wednesday are always,
“Remember man that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
There is a cosmic battle going on, and we are in the middle of it. It is our battle. The battle is all about our salvation. We cannot afford “business as usual”. Something has to change.
In the Opening Prayer on Ash Wednesday we prayed,
“… as we take up battle against spiritual evils,
we may be armed with weapons of spiritual restraint.”
During Lent we should be strengthening our spiritual restraint through self-discipline; self-control over the temptations of the world.
There is a war going on for our souls. Who is winning? How am I doing with my spiritual battle, so that the world will not win in me and dominate me?
Our Opening Prayer today asks God,
“to nourish us inwardly by your Word.”
Lent is the time for taking stock of our spiritual practices. Lent is a time for repentance, and works of penance, and listening to the Word of God.
So, how is your Lent going? Did you receive your ashes on Ash Wednesday, but can’t find it in your heart to Keep the Sabbath and attend Mass every Sunday and on holy days? Who is winning in that battle?
Did you receive your ashes on Ash Wednesday but you are not praying? Who is winning that battle? How is that working out for you?
If you are going to grow spiritually, something has to change!
Did you receive your ashes on Ash Wednesday but you are not tithing or giving to the poor? What kind of spiritual poverty is that?
Have you been neglecting the Word of God? How is that working out for you? You don’t have time? Is the world winning?
Did you come for your ashes on Ash Wednesday but you are not going to Confession? The Church requires Catholics to go to Confession once per year. What if the Church told us to take a bath only once per year? Personally, I have to go to Confession more frequently or I simply get out of the habit of examining my sinfulness and my lifestyle. My appetites and desires always want to win. I try to go to confession once every month or two.
What is fasting all about? Is fasting simply to make us uncomfortable? No! The Church doesn’t teach self-abuse. Something has to change. Giving up candy and chocolate is “kid stuff”! As we mature we need to build up our self-discipline.
If parents don’t make an effort to teach their children self-restraint, then they become prisoners of their appetites and desires; they become monsters without some discipline.
We all need to strengthen our will power with weapons of self- restraint. If we don’t, then we allow the world to always win with us. Fasting and penance help to give us more self-discipline so that we don’t allow our lives to be dominated by our appetites and desires. We will only have personal freedom if we make ourselves free through regular penance. These are the weapons of spiritual restraint. Something has to change.
However, don’t try to fast without prayer and almsgiving. That is simply self-abuse. Penance and fasting, prayer and giving; reading and listening to Sacred Scripture, this is the business of Lent.
We hope in the Resurrection. In the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration, the apostles were given a foretaste of the Resurrection. Jesus walked and talked in eternity with Moses and Elijah, who had died centuries before. We can talk with Moses and Elijah and our loved ones who died in God’s grace if and when we experience the Resurrection. We are climbing the mountain to Easter. We will share in the Resurrection if we persevere in repentance and spiritual growth. We are “Easter People”, but the Resurrection is not automatic. Eternal life requires some change on our part.
Business as usual…. How is that working out for you? Don’t waste Lent. Repent! Persevere! Something has to change!