Taking Stock at Lent’s Midpoint

Midpoint in Lent is a great time to pause and take stock. Most of us probably started Lent with a thud, filled with determination to make good use of this opportunity for penance and renewal. And now? How are we doing at impeding those good resolutions we saw on Ash Wednesday? Forgotten what the rules and regulations were? Now, while it’s still Lent, there’s plenty of time left for a fresh start.

And as we proceed with this stock-taking, here are some thoughts from a sermon called “The Lapse of Time” by St. John Henry Newman:

“We know very well that much as we may have attempted, we have done very little, that our very best service is nothing worth-and the more we are trying to, the more clearly we shall see how little we have hitherto attempted.”

Reading Newman, you’re reminded that this is someone with a tough-minded, unsentimental understanding of human weakness and the struggle required of anyone serious about moving forward in the spiritual life.

He draws the point-obvious fairly, but one we tend to forget-that time really is a precious treasure of which each of us is allotted a specific, restraint amount. Ideally, we would use our particular quantity of era adoration God and sufficing others. In reality, as self-examination usually be quite clear, much of our times, maybe most of it, is wasted fulfilling all our interests and desires, with comparatively little devoted to God and those around us.

So during this Lenten pause I indicate a practice that numerous people , no doubt including some who are reading this, once find helpful in organizing their lives.

Every day, at the same time if possible, read a chapter from one of the messages. If it’s especially long, read half. Stick to the same gospel every day, construe through it chapter by chapter until “youve finished”, then go on to the next gospel. When you’ve read all four, start over.

After each day’s reading, sit softly for ten minutes and think about what you’ve read. Consider how it applies to you. Say anything to God about it-thanking him for his goodness, telling him you’re sorry for not responding as you are able to, promising to try harder. Or whatever else seems appropriate to you there and then.

Catholic News Service reports a British study evidencing bible learn improves mental well being. Great-supposing you’re interested in religion as regiman. But here’s something better: bible reading improves spiritual well being.

Let me conclude, though, with a further visualized from Newman 😛 TAGEND

“Those whom Christ saves are they who at once attempt to save themselves hitherto despair of saving themselves; who aim to do all and confess they do nought; who are all love and all fear; who are the most holy and more confess themselves the most unholy; who ever seek to please him hitherto feel they never can; who are full of good works hitherto of undertakings of penance.”

That is all very strange, one might conclude. And Newman concurs. Then he supplements 😛 TAGEND

“All this seems a contradiction to the natural subject, but it is not so to those whom Christ enlightens. They understand in proportion to their illumination that it is possible to work out their saving more to have it wrought out for them, to fear and tremble at the thought of judgment yet to rejoice always in the Lord and hope and pray for his coming.”

May we all take our turn horror, shuddering, and exulting for the rest of Lent–and beyond.

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