Lenten Themes

Always, as I prepare for Lent (and there is a big Lenten post coming up with lots of links, reading suggestions etc), I find that there is a common theme that is being put before my eyes -something that I figure I am meant to particularly pray about, work on or discipline myself to, with God’s grace, over the course of Lent.

Now, clearly, I am such a wretched and faulty creature that any headway I do make (and it is scant) is pure gift and not by my own merits. Someone asked me the other day how I can pray so much “and still be such a pain in the ass?” And the answer is, of course, “I pray so much because I need lots of help. I trust that God is not done with me, yet.”

Any improvements are incremental. I’ve learned, over the course of a decade of psalmody, that the Lord works by His own unfathomable and completely trustworthy clock. He sometimes answers instantly, but mostly seems to work even more slowly than the Vatican, yet with perfect timeliness.

What I can say without reservation is that prayer, liturgy, the sacraments -these things have done me nothing but good. I shudder to imagine the glittering holy terror I would be without them.

Remember, last year I seemed to dance between Shadows and Light, the Lent of ’08 was almost unbearably self-revealing.

Neither of those seasons ended up being what I had anticipated, so who knows what this one will bring. But for now two themes have been before me all week, and I am trusting that they are “my” themes for Lent. The first has been a challenge set to nagging at me: “am I not more to you than ten sons?”

To be honest, it scares the hell out of me.

I want to believe this is nothing more than God giving me something to hang onto during Lent: “am I not more to you than ten Hershey Kisses?” “Am I not more to you than ten hours of ‘net surfing?” “Am I not more to you than ten writing gigs?”

I’m sure it will end up going much deeper than that; nothing ends, in Lent, as it begins. So, I step forward in leery trust. God help me.

The other theme began with the Feast of the Presentation, and my enduring fascination with that story, with Joseph and Mary, and Simeon and Anna – particularly with Simeon and Anna’s constant watchfulness. Today in the Office of Readings, we read from Proverbs 8:1-5, 12-36, a lovely reading on the Word (“when he established the heavens I was there…“) that ends thusly:

So now, O children, listen to me;
instruction and wisdom do not reject!
Happy the man who obeys me,
and happy those who keep my ways,
Happy the man watching daily at my gates,
waiting at my doorposts;
For he who finds me finds life,
and wins favor from the Lord;
But he who misses me harms himself;
all who hate me love death.”

Bang! We suspend Ordinary Time on an unambivalent note. I have much to learn. And clearly, I must pay attention.


About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Miriam

    “Am I not more to you than ten hours of ‘net surfing?”

    I’m giving up the internet for Lent. Not what I have to do for work and not emails I need to answer but the internet for blogs and forums and news. That internet.

    i knew it was the right thing to do when the thought first crossed my mind and I was “Oh my, can I do that?”

    I knew then that I have to do that.

    Have a lovely Lent and I will see you when Lent is over.

    Prayers up for your days.

    [Oh, I will pray for your intention; please pray for mine. And let me know what it's like! admin]

  • Miriam

    I will certainly let you know and I appreciate the prayers and I will pray for you.

    I’m actually looking forward to it. It will be interesting. I’m excited.

  • Katie

    I love love love seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. I feel like the Proverbs passage there really has some echoes of John…but then, also Job.

    I was having sort of a hard time getting in the “Ash Wednesday mood”, in part because, um, pitchers and catchers report today…but this helped, so thank you.

    Blessings to you, for a mindful Lent.

  • J

    A few years ago I decided to give up chocolate for Lent (I’m a chocolate-a-day chocoholic). And I whined about it for the whole time. My friend begged me to never put her through that again. The following year I took a different approach. I told myself chocolate, doing without it does not stack up to a hill of beans compared to Christ and what he suffered…..can’t you at least do this? Is this harder than what he suffered? It helped a lot. It is interesting to see that by taking a different look at something, it is easier to bear.

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  • Peter

    Lovely singing on the video.

  • Craig Payne

    What a lovely photo, too. There is nothing so beautiful as the radiance of goodness in one’s eyes.