Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. What that means is that we are now in Lent. We are now in the wilderness. But today is also Valentine's Day. When I went to the grocery store this afternoon the display case had fish literally next to chocolate covered strawberries. How ironic. Today the secular media bombards us with "love images": lips, Cupid, hearts, roses and anything imaginable that's pink or red. However if you want to see an image of real love, true love, look a a crucifix. Love is sacrifice. And that is what Lent is all about: loving more through sacrifice. We have to change ourselves if we wish to change the world around us. The Church in Her infinite wisdom gives us three weapons for this battle: prayer, fasting, and alms giving. This Lenten sacrifice for me is about giving your time to God (prayer); giving your addiction to God (fasting); giving to others as you would to God (charity/alms giving).
At the beginning of every Mass we confess our sins. Before we move on to the glorious sacrifice of the Mass- we acknowledge that we are sinners. To move forward in the spiritual life we first have to realize our own bankruptness. That's how we should start Lent as well. As I was looking through my notes of previous thoughts from previous Lents, I came across this note. It's a note that I had wrote about 2 years ago when I had fallen in the sin of pornography. This note helps me realize that I am a broken man. It is from there my Lenten journey must truly begin:
Today I fell. It wasn't abrupt or out of no where; in hindsight, it was a progression of events that should have screamed to me. Triggers. At the beginning of the week- I got relaxed. Almost bragging, I thought, "I got this in the bag". Gods grace only comes to the humble. We cannot receive it when we are puffed up. We receive his divine life only when we stoop down in humility to receive it. I feel discouraged, beat, ashamed. But that's not what the Lord wants for me- he wants me to be humble. And so therefore, I will pick myself up and conitnue the race. Like a river I will never stop. I'll keep flowing to my goal. Sometimes slow and sometimes fast but never stoping. Always flowing, never bothered by what's trying to dam me up. I've got a goal and a end and I must progress on. The first step is to make a heartfelt act of contrition:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the unnecessary occasions of sin. Amen.
The next thing I know I must do is go to confession. One, confessing ones sins, is a sign of humility. Second, the sacrament of confession is a personal encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ and a fountain of healing and grace. I need grace.