With the rapidly changing weather I imagine my time here is limited. I have been in a seriously contemplative mood though since last evening, and now I have many things swirling around in my head. Dust, the ashes which the priest puts on our foreheads today, has no substance; the lightest breath will disperse it. It is a good representation of man’s nothingness: “O Lord, my substance is as nothing before Thee” (Psalm 38:6).
Our pride, our arrogance, needs to grasp this truth, to realize that everything in us is nothing. The consequence and punishment of sin, death is, itself, bitter and painful; but Jesus, who wanted to be like to us in all things, in submitting to death has given all Christians the strength to accept it out of love.
Nevertheless, death exists, and we should reflect on it, not in order to distress ourselves, but to arouse ourselves to do good. The thought of death places before our eyes the vanity of earthly things, the brevity of life – “All things passing; God alone remains” – and therefore it urges us to detach ourselves from everything, to scorn every earthly satisfaction, and to seek God alone.
Last night, as I was praying the night hours this struck me.
1 Peter 5:8-9
Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith,
because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
I know why this passage is so profound, I think I can somewhat identify with it. I was told, it would be ridiculous to be temped by things you feared, pointless too. You are likely going to be temped by things of great beauty. Well, it’s hard to resit such a beauty. I am essentially a selfish creature. I crave to satisfy hungers that are ingrained into my very being. Lent is a wonderful time to name what sinful, unhealthy, self-centered patterns need changing and to act against them. I’ve let my mind and fantasy get cluttered with escapist litter.
Dishonesty on all kinds of levels has become a way of life. I have been focusing on the deep wounds and resentments from my past, things that I continue to hold against others and myself.
Lord, help me to know what needs changing. I’m going to make a point of being more observant, more aware of what I’m experiencing. I am going to reflect upon the desires I currently have to see which of them need to be purified, and which may need to be abandoned. That is not to say I will no longer have this deep love in my heart, but I will love purely, with good intention.
If the remembrance of my infidelities torments me, I shall remember, O Lord, that “as soon as we are sorry for having offended You, You forget all our sins and malice. O truly infinite goodness!
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13