broken lent

Today is Monday of the Second Week of Lent. Today is the 13th day of Lent 2006. For 13 days, we have fasted, sacrificed, prayed more, and done more good works than we had 14 days ago.
We come up with these great ideas on what we’re able to do. I’m going to give up sodas, pray the Liturgy of the Hours (at least aspects of it), stop the little cursing I still do, go to Mass when I can around my work/class schedule, volunteer at a food pantry, stop skipping class and help more old ladies across the street. I’m going to start all of this at midnight on March 1, 2006.
I’m going cold turkey on everything. When ashes were imposed on my foreheard with the priest or minister saying “Remember man, you are dust and to dust you shall return” or “Repent, turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel”, I was suddenly empowered to do all these things I had planned on doing. On Ash Wednesday, seeing all of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ- many times, I’ll see more people in church than I would see on either Christmas or Easter- I am given this superhuman, divine, all-powerful spirit of renewal and vigor.
Have you caught the error in my thought yet?
We, and myself in particular, saw this Holy Season of Lent as a chance to make right all the things I wish I didn’t do. I hate that I skip class. I hate that I drink so many sodas. I wish to gain into a deeper relationship with my Creator and look to the Liturgy as a way for me to do so. I wish to pray more for my friends and family. I want to reverse my material living and give more for God. I want to do all these things.
Just because the day changes or a prayer is said, that doesn’t change anything in our lives unless we’re ready for that change and allow it into our lives.
In order to live the lives we wish to live, we can’t wake up one morning and change everything that we wished to change. We are too much creatures of habit to allow for such a transition under normal circumstances. We have to start slow and prepare ourselves for this change. This is what Lent is- a time of preparation for the great Easter. Easter, the festum festorum, is Christ breaking the bonds of death and sin once and for all. This is a massive change! For all of human history, we have been bound by sin and death. Even for us individually, we are still born into this cycle. Easter changes all of that. Whether it was the first Easter thousands of years ago or our personal Easter, that is our baptism, this feast transforms our sin and death into rising to new and everlasting life.
This change cannot happen overnight. Just as we cannot break old habits with the change to a new day and ashes, we cannot accept this new life without preparation.
For me, I broke Lent from day one. I did not make it through Ash Wednesday without breaking at least one of my “Lenten promises”. By now, I have already broken every single thing I hoped to sacrifice over these 40 days.
I wasn’t prepared.
Lucky for me, I realized this by drinking a Dr. Pepper instead of going to class. This Lent won’t be the perfect one we all imagine. I won’t make this great list of things to do and do them all throughout the entire season. This Lent will be a messy one. Through self-doubt, depression and death, I will prepare myself for a greater experience of God.
Maybe next year, I’ll be prepared to make a promise and keep it. Maybe, I’ll be prepared to sacrifice and have a true intent behind that sacrifice.






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