The preparation before the preparation.
“The purification of the senses and the practice of abnegation. The struggle against sin. Humility, obedience, and the acceptance of the cross. The passion of Jesus.” - Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D
One of the things I like about Mass in the Extraordinary Form is the “heads up” of Septuagesima.
A prelude to Lent that reminds me to make the necessary preparations. Of course it’s always there whether we name it or not but as someone who tends to need reminders, it’s truly helpful.
I usually dread Lent. I do, I admit it. Part of that has to do with my love of self and my own struggles, and part of it has to do with association, the time of year, events of the past, etc.
But this morning in prayer I was happy to find that I felt no dread. In fact I felt only reassurance from the One Who desires my salvation and Who reminds me, yet again, that it is not MY strength that will see me through –indeed if I am relying on what I can do I have no reason to hope — but His strength, which always does.
I copied this section into my journal this morning: “O Jesus, how sublime is the ideal You propose to me, how wonderful the invitation You offer me! Yes, your words apply also to me, a creature of sin and misery. Why should I delay remaining among the base things and vanities of this earthly life? Why should I, like a reptile, be content to crawl on the ground, when You invite me to soar like an eagle and give me wings with which to do so? Alone I can do nothing and would struggle in vain to free myself from the bonds of sin, to detach myself from creatures and from myself; all my efforts would be useless because my natural weakness constantly tends to drag me down. But Your grace and love are the wings on which I can fly to perfect union with You. With such an ideal, how could I think it hard to undertake and carry out a work of profound purification and total detachment?” - Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D
Dare I say it that I feel excited at the thought of Lent?
I am weary of this world. The last several months have been particularly trying. I have been wounded by hurtful words from persons I thought were my friends, I have been physically ill more than I have been in many years and I have felt sharply the sting of my own personal failings, which truly are many. It’s been tough.
I look at this picture I took of my beautiful dogwood tree after a recent storm and I feel a kinship with its weighted limbs and frozen branches.
But I know that just as there is hope for its restoration there is hope for me too. I know because it’s what God does –if only we answer the invitation. Of course that’s not always as easy as it sounds is it? Yes the invitation is there but even in the ability to respond, I am weak. The beginning prayer for yesterday’s meditation seems to be a good place to start: “O Lord, I come to You with a keen desire to learn how to respond to Your invitations.“