Lenten Preparation


As I have said many times before, I have the attention span of a gnat. I can become interested in a topic and spend some time studying a topic and then something else comes up and I get interested in that and forget about the first thing, then a new idea comes to my attention and, well you get the idea. Part of the problem is that, I usually work more than a 40 hour week, and time off is in short supply, and there are so many things I like to do. And, too, I am still plugging away at the mystery novel, and that takes a good deal of time. Whatever the reason, the lack of focus has, for sure, been apparent here, because my posting, when I bother to post, has been of a wide variety of type and subject.

I was thinking about this and wondering what I would do to change it. Then, it ocurred to me that, at least some things I like to write about are not things that would attract a wide audience, or even be of much interest, to many others. Then, (I had a bit of free time today and really allowed my mind to rove), then, I thought, well, what am I most interested in?

I decided to try a little experiment to find out, so I bought a three pack of Moleskine softcover notebooks and decided to devote one to a daily listing of things that catch my attention during the day. If I can manage to be faithful to the practice this might be a dandy Lenten penance, with the added benefit that I might discern a predominant pattern and try to focus on that for the blog. First thing I did in my new notebook was try a preliminary list of things I really find interesting. Here it is, items listed not necessary in the order of importance.

1. Catholic Apologetics:
2. Poetry (a newly developing area of reading):
3. The relationship between science and religion (notice I said “relationship” and not “tension”);
4. Darwinism (evolutionary) vs. Intelligent Design (I’m afraid I come down on the ID side);
5. American history:

a. Colonial period
b. WW II military
c. Early National, through Jackson

6. Reformation history;
7. Moral theology, especially the virtues;
8. Mystery writing;
9. Monasticism, especially the Desert Fathers;
10. The Church.

As for my first entries in my new notebook, I came across three or four items on the web today.

First, there was a Zenit story about a statement Benedict XV made on Lenten penance today, a portion of which read:

Benedict XVI says that Lent is not a "heavy obligation" but rather a time of renewal for those who have found in Jesus the meaning of life.

The Pope spoke of preparing for Easter to the thousands gathered today in St. Peter's Square to pray the midday Angelus. The Holy Father commented on Mark 2:18-20, from the day's liturgy, in which Christ explains why his apostles did not fast.

They "cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them," the Pope said, quoting Christ, "they will fast when the bridegroom is taken from them."

With these words, Christ revealed "his identity of Messiah, Israel's bridegroom, who came for the betrothal with his people," explained Benedict XVI.

"Those who recognize and welcome him are celebrating. However, he will have to be rejected and killed precisely by his own: At that moment, during his Passion and death, the hour will come of mourning and fasting," explained the Bishop of Rome, showing out the meaning of Lent.

"As a whole, it constitutes a great memorial of the Lord's passion, in preparation for the Easter resurrection," he continued. "During this period the 'Alleluia' is not sung and we are invited to practice appropriate forms of penitential denial."

The Lenten season "must not be faced with an 'old' spirit, as if it were a heavy and tedious obligation, but with the new spirit of the one who has found in Jesus and his paschal mystery the meaning of life, and feels that everything must make reference to him," the Pope exhorted.

Closely related to this was two posts coming from Steven at Flos Carmeli, here and here. The first was a short note in which he pointed out that, instead of trying to decide what we need or want to give up for Lent, a better approach would be to pray and ask God what He would like us to do. Wonderful, and very obvious idea. Why didn’t I think of that?

The other was a caution not to get discouraged if your fail in your chosen Lenten penance, simply because you will fail. The thing to do is just pick up and start again. Again, a very simple, and useful reminder.

The thing about all three of these items is that they correspond to the pattern of spiritual advice that would come from any advisor coming from the heart of the church – their advice is steeped in Wisdom. These ideas are very wise and very practical; they meet us where we are and point us, simply, in the right direction.

The last item is that, while I had some time to kill after work today, I picked up a book by Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way. I think I might use this for my Lenten reading.

Anyway, that’s a brief run down of my first day’s listing of items of interest. I don’t know if I’ll post this everyday, I will do my best to keep the notebook current. I guess we’ll see how this goes.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on February 27, 2006 1:54 PM.

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