Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lent: A Battle for the Love of God

Last night during adoration, I was reading through a spiritual classic and the author was discussing why we need to practice mortification.  If I had any doubts that I should be taking Lent seriously this year, the reading solved that.  At one point, the author quotes The Imitation of Christ stating, "Nature proposes self as her end,  but grace does all things purely out of love for God."  These words really struck me.  Among other things, mortification assists us to live life purely out of love for God rather than seeking merely natural ends. We are made for a supernatural end, but our inclination is to settle for less.  Mortification helps us to live for more.

As I read those words last night, I thought, "I need a LOT of mortification."  Too easily, I settle for less than the grandeur for which I was created.  Between the place where I stand right now and living "purely for the love of God," there is quite a chasm!  Lent is given to us so that--by God's grace--we can narrow the gap between where we are and where He calls us to be.

On this Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, I am filled with a mixture of emotions.  I am like a man on the eve of battle.  Part of me wants to jump in, storm the beachhead, and engage the battle.  But, part of me is a little nervous about the enemies and their strength.  Of course, one enemy is our ancient foe, the Prince of Darkness and the Father of Lies.  Another enemy is the world and it's seductive allure.  But, probably my most lethal enemy is me!  I carry within myself a soldier who is prone towards being derelict in his duties. In the face of even the slightest opposition, he's prone to retreat and surrender.  It wouldn't take 30 pieces of silver for this soldier to become a betrayer.  No, just a little bit of hunger, some minor inconvenience, some small suffering, or the promise of some transient pleasure and this soldier is all too willing to betray his supernatural end.  

Of course, all of this just proves the point that I need Lent.  I need this time of mortification so that I can bridge the gap that exists between my supernatural destiny of loving God purely and the place where I am now.  Although I might be my worst enemy, God has not abandoned me to myself.  If I were heading out onto that battlefield alone, I might as well just stay home.  But, Lent is lived together.  When we go out into the battlefield of the desert, we discover that Christ is already there.  We live Lent united to Christ.  He strengthens us especially through the Sacraments and His Word.  

Additionally, we live this Lent with our brothers and sisters.  We are not the most organized, efficient, or well-trained fighting force.  We are all showing up for this battle a little ill-prepared and weak.  But, we are in this together.  I will be living this Lent in the company of the BU Catholic Center students and staff.  For me, it is a source of encouragement to be surrounded by others--especially these young men and women--who are striving to live their life purely for the love of God.  We will pray for each other, encourage one another, and pick one another up along the way.  We are in this together and there is strength in numbers.  

The landing craft door is about to open and the battle is set to begin.  Our opponent is the one who keeps us from living life purely for God.  That opponent is often ourselves!  Let's remember that our goal is to live life purely for love of God.  This would be a joyous and glorious victory!  But, it may hurt a little to get there.  As we prepare to storm the beaches, I'm grateful for those who do so with me.

Lock and load!

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