Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent 2015

Dunno about you, but most of my spiritual progress has come during Lent. Some years it's a few steps forwards, others it's "leaps-and-bounds."

So, having statistically proven that Lent is the time to really get into spiritual shape, I wanted to muse aloud (or, "aprint") on what that spiritual shape should, IMCO, look like.

There are people for whom Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, are not so much reasons for joy* as they are opportunities to "be angry about the right things."

And Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, are not so much about anger as they are about joy. That said, yes there are occasions in which righteous anger is warranted, and even when giving voice or motion to that anger is proper, good, and correct.

But joy, not anger, should be the default.

I grew up with people -- let's just leave that at that -- who were of the "angry persuasion" and for whom the attraction of Catholicism was being, as noted above, angry at the right things.

You see it all over the Catholic blogosphere. And there's a very simple litmus test to see if the blogger in question is "an angry one" or merely expressing her/himself with anger about a particular matter: How many references (outside of the polemical post in question) are there in that blog to: Confession? Grace? The saints? Devotions, novenæ, pilgrimages or prayers? How many posts about Scripture or its lessons for everyday living?

I suspect you know the answer.

So, for Lent, you should seek to "serve" your Lent with joy that is obvious and not, as Jackie Mason would note: "by looking nauseous and disturbed." How?

1- Well, start with your Google alerts. I know that many of you have Google alerts that you have specifically created to inform you of things about which you should be angry. The doings, goings and sayings of Person X are fed to you in a ceaselessly bitter stream of news. Stop that.

2- Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! Go to Confession! If you are not going to Confession, you're doing Lent wrong. Period. If Lent is a season where we strive to make better our conversion -- and it is -- and if that requires self-examination and self-accusation in light of God's will -- and it does -- then you have to, out of the self-recognition as a sinner in dire need of God's sanctifying grace and His forgiveness, get thee to the Confessional. There is no getting around this.

3- Having done the above, get a Plenary Indulgence. You really don't want to spend any time in Purgatory. You almost certainly have loved ones who are in Purgatory, and who will not be able to get out on their own. A Plenary Indulgence (or even a partial one) helps these holy souls attain Heaven sooner than if they had "timed out."

Let's get to work.

-J.

*Joy, not happiness. "Happiness is not a condition, happiness is a sensation."