Monday, February 15, 2016

Unsteady first steps

      Lent has begun.  We have been signed.  We have fasted and prayed.  We have remembered not to eat meat.   We have begun the journey through this holy time of grace.   Our beginnings hopefully were strong, but as is often the case, we may have begun with an unsteady gait.   That was the case this morning as I arrived for Mass and found that there was a light coating of slush or ice on the parking lot, making walking a challenging endeavor.  Baby steps, and take your time, and being careful help to deal with the unsteadiness.

     My Lent began well, except for the head cold that settled in on Wednesday, making clarity of mind a chore and preaching and ministering to others an uphill struggle.

     As we usually do, we begin this great season with a reminder on the First Sunday of Lent of the surety of temptation in our lives - for the evil one, emboldened by his tempting of Jesus, does not hesitate to entice us with his words.  We have those images of the little guy in the red suit with pitch fork and horns on our shoulder telling us to do this or to do that.  As Geraldine used to say: "The devil made me do it!"  But he is much more subtle.   I reminded the people this weekend that temptation of every stripe is to be guarded against at every moment with the grace provided by the Lord, but that the temptation to do nothing, to be uninvolved in the lives of others, to walk on the periphery, to not immerse ourselves in the journey to holiness that we have received at Baptism, to simply "be" rather than to "live", is the more deadly and life threatening temptation. This is what we must guard against.  This is what we must resist.  And we do so through the bountiful blessings of the Lord.

     The Lenten Prayer Over the People for the First Sunday of Lent prays:

"May bountiful blessings, O Lord, we pray,
come down upon your people,
that hope may grow in tribulation,
virtue be strengthened in temptation,
and eternal redemption be assured.
Through Christ our Lord."

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