24 February 2010

Lent 2010

Lent began last Wednesday. I was re-reading my post from last Ash Wednesday (here) and realized I wrote on self-denial. I was advocating that we all adopt the practice of self-denial, and arguing that it is our lack of self-control that causes so many problems in the world.

I stand by that premise. Having entered the "real world" I'm finding it easier to say than do however. I have been very fortunate- in a year where so many people have lost jobs or had to take paycuts, my income has increased and I can pretty much do whatever I like.

And it's so easy to say "It won't hurt anything if I buy this book" or "I would really like to sleep in this morning, so I will just buy lunch instead of making it." Those little things don't hurt; I can afford to do them, but that's not what matters.

I should be asking myself if I need to do them. Do I need a couple new books every week? Do I need to go out for lunch a few days a week? No I don't. But by allowing myself to have these things, I fail to exercise my spiritual muscle of self-denial.

And in recent weeks I've been oh so gently reminded that if you don't exercise that muscle with the little temptations, it's not there to support you when you are faced with the big ones.

Which brings me to the homily I heard last Sunday. It was on temptation, fitting considering the readings. Christ was fully human, as well as fully God. As a result he faced the same temptations we all do. When the devil tempted him after his fasting in the desert, Christ was tempted to succumb to them. To be fully human, he'd have to be.

But he was able to resist the temptation, in large part because he understood the importance of self-denial. He'd been exercising that muscle for the previous 40 days.

In contrast, I have not been exercising that muscle, which makes falling into sin very very very easy. But, by the grace of God, I've realized that I need to embrace self-denial. And that's what Lent is all about.

I don't like fasting and I really don't like self-denial.

But I like having a close relationship with God. And I like being in a state of grace.

And I like being able to say to the devil "Hah! Beat you this time!" (And then castigate myself for pride, but that's another story :)

So to all my readers, I wish you a joyous Lent, full of sacrifice and fasting and I pray it brings us all closer to God.

No comments: