Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Remember, man, that thou art dust,
and to dust thou shalt return.

How is your fast going? Father Z asked the same question, and from the comments it looks like a lot of people are going at it with great intensity! 

Remember not to be like John Dashwood, though.

John Dashwood: In such cases, I would rather do too much than too little.

Whereupon his wife replies: There's no telling what they expect. The question is what can you afford?

And so, in a matter of minutes, John is persuaded not to offer his poor relations any monetary assistance whatsoever.

In an alternate universe where John Dashwood was Catholic, I can see him being similarly persuaded for the sake of one thing or another to make no alteration to his Ash Wednesday meals, either. Such is the power of selfishness and a feeble will!

All of this (self indulgence) is behind us now. You and I enter the desert of Lent and endeavor to put our better selves back in control of the body and its hundreds of cravings and demands. This is not only for the sake of self improvement (for which we should always be striving), but more importantly so that we can become Christ to the world and make it a more beautiful place.

We are temples of the Holy Spirit, and such temples are not the work of one day, even a very pious day, of fasting and abstinence, supported by prayer, and showing its harvest in almsgiving. Every sacrifice helps, though. 

I am convinced that one of the best small sacrifices one can offer during this time is the sacrifice of cheerfulness. Yes! It's natural to be cheerful at Easter, but it's easy to give ourselves a pass during Lent. After all, we need to grit our teeth in order to tighten our belts, don't we? 

No, we don't. Especially now, when all the world seems swathed in despair and every road looks like a dead end, it is a great thing, however small, to persevere in being cheerful with everyone we meet.

A word in your ear. If anyone would like to make me a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte for Easter, I accept!

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