Saturday, March 12, 2011

The where and how of conversion

This morning finds us one day short of the First Sunday of Lent, which will begin this holy season in earnest. Last night I read a post over on Cahiers Péguy by my friend Sharon that struck me as being what Lent is all about. Lent is not about doing things we don't do the rest of the year, including not eating meat on Fridays and, ideally, even fasting. On my view, it is about doing these things more intensively and conscientiously, which means striving to live more in the awareness of destiny. This brings up, yet again, the reality that the disciplines we intensify during this holy season are means to an end, namely starting from image and moving to likeness, a movement only made possible in Christ, with Christ, and through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sharon's post, A vocation to the real, takes this up in a very concrete way. She points out that the where and the how of Christ at work seeking to make you over into His likeness is staring you in the face at every moment.

On this interstitial Saturday in Lent I want to turn back to my fellow deacon, the Syriac, St. Ephrem, who brings up the need we have to die to ourselves, giving it the gravity it deserves by putting it in the context of destiny:

"On that dreadful and amazing day, You shall say to us sinners, O Lord: ‘You men know well what I have undergone for you; what have you suffered for Me?’…The martyrs will point to their wounds, their sufferings, the severed parts of their bodies… The ascetics will point to their asceticism, to their long fasts and vigils, to their liberality…But I, idle, sinful, transgressing as I am, what shall I be able to point to? Spare me, O merciful One! Spare me, O Thou Lover of mankind!"

I am always dismayed at the amount of what I can only call silliness that spills forth on and around Ash Wednesday concerning Lent, thus trivializing what is a solemn and holy season. As one who sees the benefit and even the need to be interconnected, I suppose much of this has its place, given the tremendous pastoral need. So, I can deal with those efforts that don't consciously strive to be merely entertaining. Efforts aimed at entertaining, as well-intentioned as they may be, only serve to add more clutter to a culture increasingly made up of distractions.

Starting this Monday I will be posting less, at least over the remainder of Lent. I will definitely continue our Friday traditio and I will put something up on the Sunday readings. I take a kind of odd pride in posting something everyday. So, I will be working on that over Lent. One feature that I am discontinuing altogether is the U.S. hierarchy updates. The best resource for keeping up on these events is the Catholic-Hierarchy News blog, which I feature in my blogfeed over on the right.

I have never judged the success of this endeavor by any quantitative method. Suffice it to say, I do not see myself as an entertainer, but as a deacon who hopes he is providing a service. One service I hope I provide is a blog that has some continuity and coherence from post-to-post, day-to-day, week-to-week, etc., even if I run the risk of being a little repetitive. After all, continuity requires overlap. It also bears mentioning that being serious does not mean being either joyless or humorless.

One cannot post during these days without continuing to ask for prayers for the people of Japan. This morning an explosion was reported at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant that was damaged by the 8.9 earthquake. The explosion raises the concern that one of plant's reactors has started to meltdown. Lord, hear our prayer.

Meum cum sim pulvis et cinis

No comments:

Post a Comment