Why Lent?

I’m writing this on the second Sunday of the Great Fast, and I have to admit I just haven’t had much about which to blog lately.  But then I stumbled across another blog post, here, and read quickly through it until this caught my eye:

The  poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born  with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother’s heart  is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the  poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.

That made me think, I believe all babies are born with a knowledge of God as well.  There are many Scripture passages that speak quite clearly about the fact that God knows us before we know Him in a mature sense, so to me it follows that babies must know quite a bit about God.  Then life happens, and this knowledge begins to be squeezed out of us in one way or another, until in a worst-case scenario we are atheists, agnostics, or that curious kind of Christian who only darkens the doors of a Church on Christmas and/or Easter.

But how wise and wonderful is God!  In Lent He gives us, shaken down and running over, seven (six in the Latin Church) weeks to squeeze the world out and let Him in.  He wants to fill us, you see.  He gave us each a soul!  And what wonderful opportunities we have to fill ourselves with Him during this holy season.

In keeping with the penitential nature of the Great Fast, the Canons of the Eastern Churches prescribe that except for Wednesdays and Fridays, the weeks are ‘a-liturgical’ meaning that the Divine Liturgy is not to be celebrated.  On Wednesdays and Fridays, the Liturgy is called “The Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts” and at this Liturgy we sing Psalms, are taught lessons from reading in the Old Testament, and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion from gifts already consecrated and transformed at the previous Sunday’s Divine Liturgy.

This is glorious, especially for our parish which does not normally have weekday Divine Liturgy, because we share our priest with a monastery.

So, as I am emptying myself of undue attachment to worldly things, having given up meat, dairy, eggs, and olive oil in the traditional “Black Fast” I am able to fill that empty space in my soul with the only possible thing that will never leave me wanting.  Christ Himself.

And there is a sort of music to ordering my life after the rhythm of services at my parish Church.  It makes me keep at the front of my mind what is truly of greatest importance, and it isn’t at all what kind of car I drive, or the cost of my latest shoe purchase, or the number of pickup trucks it would take to hold all the checs’ toys.  What is important, both now while I’m at my emptiest and later, is that God is always there, waiting, beckoning me.

I want Him to help me squeeze out the world, and put the music back into my soul.

One response to “Why Lent?

  1. Great post! And yes, I firmly believe children are born with a greater spiritual sense than most adults have. You’re absolutely right, society slowly sucks that area away unless we become consciously aware.