Monday, March 28, 2016

The Week Ahead - and the Distrubingly Swift Passage of Time

Today we begin the third week of the Holy Fast. If you are like me you are probably rather shocked at that fact. It seems like we just started! But how quickly the Great Lent flies by – and how often we waste this special time of year - this spiritual gift! The Lord so mercifully shows us our sins during this time – but we often do not take the time to notice. And if you would like to be a little more shocked at the breakneck speed at which Great Lent passes: this Sunday, April 3, is the midway point of the fast! Unbelievable but true. So, let us begin if we have not, and if we have, let us redouble our efforts.

One thing is to take the time to notice what the Lord is showing us during Great Lent, and to be thankful that He so kindly points out our weaknesses, shortcomings, and falls. That is not said tongue in cheek. We really should be thankful – much more thankful that we are. But the biggest problem generally is: we don't like to look at OUR sins, we like to look at OTHERS' sins (and judge them of course!). Put another way, we don't like to look at our own reflection in the “spiritual mirror”. Because what we see there does not match the fantasy of how we think of ourselves. It does not fit the way we want others to see us. It is does not reflect our social media profile. But when we look in the spiritual mirror, when we make a real effort to see what the Lord is showing us, even though we won't like it very much, we will grow spiritually. St. Anthony the Great said that if you know yourself you know everything. Of course he was talking about spiritual life – not educational attainments. And if we know where our weaknesses and temptations are we can avoid them. Yes – in complete opposition to what the world we live in tells us we are not to indulge our weaknesses and temptations, but rather to fight them. Not alone – but with the Lord's  help. That's right – not only is the Lord merciful enough to SHOW us our weaknesses, temptations, and sins – He is also there to help us FIGHT against these too. A common temptation about temptations: to try to fight them on our own. To use our imagined superpowers to overcome. This is a form a pride quite honestly. We are to struggle, we are to try, we are to battle – but with the Lord's help. We are to WORK TOGETHER with God in our spiritual struggles.

Soon we will be standing in the parish church on the Paschal night and wondering where the last weeks have gone. If you don't believe me, then tell me please where the first two weeks of the fast have gone! They have disappeared in the blink of an eye! Let us decide now that we will redouble our efforts to see what the Lord is showing us – to look in the spiritual mirror – and despite the horror that surely will come from that cautionary glance – to get to know ourselves spiritually so that we can avoid our most common falls. There is still time left to make this a fruitful Great Lent. But do not wait! Start today. A good addition to our prayer rule at this time of year is the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian. This prayer is said at all the Great Lenten weekday services. If you haven't incorporated this into your usual prayer rule yet this Great Lent please do so starting today. And if you haven't yet come to Confession and Communion this Great Lent please plan to do so this coming weekend. We have Liturgy Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday morning.

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