Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Looking forward to Lent and beyond

The trappings of this world distract us 24/7.  This does not simply mean our iPods and other devices that provide us with on-demand entertainment.  They certainly play a role, but what I am talking about goes deeper into our spirits.

The world distracts us by providing illusions of security.  Fame, money, power are the main things.  Money in particular is a precarious vice, as too often rather than "In God we Trust" we put our trust more in the paper that bears the inscription.  We build these illusions of security, then panic at the first sign that of the dissipation of those illusions.

Our political scene of the day is anther fine example of this.  Our ideologies are argued and played out on the field of politics.  Is something wrong?  Pass a law against it.  Is something good?  Force people to fund it.  This is why we fear the "other side."  Right vs. Left.  We tell ourselves that as long as we hold the power via voting for the right person, we are safe.  We appeal to the raw power of naked aggression to protect us and maintain the illusions of security and freedom.

With the timing that only God can arrange we Catholics now enter the season of Lent.  The world with the state it is in and our illusions of security and prosperity crumbling around us we find ourselves in a real panic.  We now find ourselves on the brink of a persecution not seen on this side of the Civil War.  I cannot help but marvel at the timing.  The sign given to us that now more than ever we must recommit ourselves to God.

We do this by acknowledging both our sins and our mortality on Ash Wednesday.  The call of Lent is to look at our lives and see what hinders our journey to God.  What do we cling to in life?  Money? Sex? Prestige?  What ties us to this world, rather than focusing on the next?  

We do not do these things to wallow in self pity.  We do them to acknowledge the reality of the situation.  We have sinned, and sinned greatly.  We need God and His love to pull us out of the mire that we have sunk to.  We have become lost and distracted, confusing creation with the Creator.  We confess that we need more than help, we need a Savior.

Lent is a time to prepare our souls.  By acknowledging our sins we begin to see the chains in our lives.  We perform acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, to bring our focus back to where it belongs.  To turn away from ourselves to look out toward God, the true source of security and freedom.

We do so with the hope and conviction that God hears the cry of the poor, spiritual or otherwise.  And we are that poor.  But we are also made in the image of God.  And He loves His own.  By acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we return to the true focus of who we are by pointing beyond ourselves.  And after that time of refocus and purification, we behold the rising of the sun in the east.  The Light that came into the world for our sake.  

The new Sabbath dawns for us.  But we must have eyes to see it.  And we can only see it if we are looking in His direction.     

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