Today is the first day of Lent. Here’s a snippet about Lent, courtesy of Wikipedia: Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial.
Wikipedia: goes on to say: Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan.
Then, here’s what the Pope had to say today: “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.”
In the past I’ve given up things like sugar, beer, even shopping on the internet. I would give up things, abstain during Lent, with the idea of instilling some discipline in my day to day, which ultimately really, was an act with the goal of benefiting myself.
Thought for Today: I can be incredibly self-serving, in thought and thus in deed.
The Pope went on to say, “whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
I never thought about indifference in these terms before. But it’s true. We can get so wrapped in our own interior lives, the worry and hand-wringing about ‘what if’ and the striving to do more, make more, land in a better position. Our needs become all that we see, and in that place an indifference to others grows, especially those less fortunate.
An old college friend sent this to me:
I’ve printed this out and taped it to the fridge. JC gets home tonight, I wonder what he will say.
Thus: Lenten resolution: I will do my best to act from this place.