Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's Not Too Late to Start

Sister Edith is offering my favorite Lenten series "Into the Desert for Lent" focusing on the Desert Fathers at her site Monastic Musings. Yesterday, she wrote about how we choose what to do for Lent.

If you're like me, you may have longed for - or even planned - a way to really get into Lent this year. Perhaps a more austere form of fasting, or giving service beyond the usual. Each year, I spend a lot of time ruminating about exactly what practice is the RIGHT one for me this year.
This post is interesting because this year I'm aware that sometimes I'd like to choose that one thing and then think I've done Lent. That attitude makes me uncomfortable. She writes about how Lent is an opportunity for a personal response to the Lord's call to my heart. She describes how one of the fathers responded to the question, "What good thing shall I do?"
I heard that he replied: "Not all works are alike.
For scripture says that Abraham was hospitable and God was with him.
Elijah loved solitary prayer, and God was with him.
And David was humble, and God was with him."
The elder reframes the question in two ways. He verifies the idea that there are differences among good works, so some may be better than others. But he immediately considers three of the holiest figures in the Old Testament, and show that their works were utterly different, yet God had been equally present and powerful in each of their lives. How, then can we choose the type of good work we should do?
The elder said: "Therefore, whatever you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall keep your heart safe."
This way of looking at the question of what we should do suggests that Lent can keep opening up, instead of closing on our preferred penance. And it's never too late to start, or re-start.

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