“Did you ever look inside yourself and see what you are not?” the crippled daughter in one of Flannery O’Connor’s short stories shouts at her spiritually crippled mother. Lent provides us with forty days to look inside ourselves to see that what seems to us and others as normally attractive – or at least okay – is actually lacking in grace and love.
It is easy to detect a physical deformity, but our spiritual blemishes do not always show. Lent is a LONG season to do just that…to take a long hard look at our heart. We have an opportunity to identify the self indulgence, the self distrust , the complacency and self-hatred that we have allowed to dwell there. Like diets and exercise programs, Scriptures suggest a three-fold plan and our tradition and liturgy provide 40 days to succeed in this program.
Chesterton says, “I have found only one religion that dares to go down with me into the depth of myself.” And it is true. The forty days provides time and tools (scriptures) to get to the naked truth, in art called realism. The scriptures challenge, inspire, create, call, heal, console, forgive sustain and transform us. They penetrate our outer self to allow us to see what we are not: the false self. They bring us the courage and grace to see our true self, a self who dwells in Christ.
Today, write down your Lenten resolutions. This activity, suggested by St. Benedict, provides an external reminder of the Ash Wednesday zeal which may dwindle by the 3 or 4th week of Lent. Courage! With the grace of the Holy Spirit, you will arrive on Easter Sunday with the joy of your own new life and grace, your own resurrection.