Don’t Keep Lent; Let Lent Keep You.
By this point in Lent, our initial ardor and rigor tends to wear down. We might feel tempted to relax our discipline a bit. It’s so easy to set out with the best of intentions only to start to lag at some point or other.
This tendency to slow down after a rapid start is not unique to Lent or even to spiritual matters. Sometimes, our enthusiasm wanes, no matter how we start or why. It is easy to feel discouraged at this point and, as a consequence, to consider giving up. Our pride kicks in and we feel ashamed.
Maybe at this stage the value of a Lenten discipline dawns more clearly on us. The purpose of the Fast is not, then, to keep all the rules without faltering. Instead, it is to help us come to grips with why we falter in the first place.
Perhaps, we started with great pride that we could and would keep Lent down to the finest detail. Perhaps, we started relying on our own strength and cleverness without relying on God’s help. Perhaps, we secretly compared ourselves to a brother or sister and deemed ourselves superior to them in discipline. Whatever the reason, when this happens, when we become aware of our weaknesses, then instead of keeping Lent, Lent begins to keep us: from the pride, the ambition, the presumption about why we were fasting after all.
It is the sincere cry of the Publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner” which exalts a soul. And sometimes it takes falling on our faces—finding ourselves to be unable or unwilling to go further—for that to be made clear in our lives.
From the Rector’s Desk,