Thursday, February 7, 2008

I Love Lent

Lent is one of the best seasons of the year for me. I never look forward to it the way I do to Christmas, but once Lent is underway, it is a happy and peaceful time. Facing reality can be both healing and satisfying. Lent is a public acknowledgment that life is a valley of tears, the world is a dangerous place, and we are all going to die. It is like one big AA meeting where, instead of admitting to alcoholism, everyone confesses to being a sinner, a dysfunctional being who has made a mess of his life and the lives of others. But Lent is here; recovery has begun. It is time to clean up the spilled milk, pick up the pieces, and start all over again. Lent is the hour of truth; staring the truth in the face can be disarming but it can also produce the peace and joy that only penitence in Christ can bring.

John Zmirak offers some thoughts on penance and self-denial. To quote:
And this is what Chesterton teaches about penance and suffering: That the only man whose life was an answer to death was the self-proclaimed Son of Man who marched on the Cross like a city whose walls he meant to scale, whose gates he would compass with his arms, whose deepest treasuries he would break into and ransack. To a modern weakling like me, who endures a few hours without his Nicorette as an afternoon spent in Hell, this isn’t puzzling. Puzzles have solutions. It’s not a surprise, since no one could have expected it. The figure of the risen Christ doesn’t leap out at us from behind a door: It falls on us like a blazing tower, then creeps back up with a terrible smile like a tiny yellow flower. Its echoes ring through the truncated lives of millions—remembered in this City’s Colosseum, or nameless in the ash heaps of Dachau and Siberia. How strange, how fitting, and yet how hideous that we still call our children after torture victims like Lawrence, Agnes, Lucy, Agatha, and Ignatius. How odd that once we stopped handing on such names, and ceased to teach our children the age-inappropriate story of the baby born to be crucified, we soon stop bothering to bear them. Could it be that once we no longer believe we are procreating souls born to eternity, the whole business hardly seems worth the trouble?