We’ve almost reached the mid-point of Lent. Hopefully we have taken the past 20 days in reflection and prayer – and ACTION. Perhaps we have discovered and looked at our faults and flaws, but not done much about them yet.
Reaching the base of a mountain is good, but (tell me if I’m wrong) nobody has surmounted a peak without actually moving upwards – climbing.
Pope Benedict XIV has said:
“The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls.”
Frighteningly strong words, are they not? In observing Lent, we ‘prove ourselves not to be enemies of the Cross of Christ‘. In other words, to hide or shun this holy season, to neglect prayer and penance, to run from suffering, would be to declare ourselves enemies of the Cross.
How does one observe Lent?
“If any man” Christ says, “would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
In Lent, we have 40 days in which to put extra emphasis on carrying our cross. Some can, by extra sacrifices, take bits of others’ and add to their own, while many (if not most) have to spend much of the time just learning how to pick it up, let alone carry it, and even then we tend to wander off the well-beaten path.
As there are two possible ends of our lives, Heaven and Hell, with God or Not With God, (though some argue otherwise) there are two and only two ways to live. For God or Not For God. The former is to follow Christ, carrying your cross, the latter is to do neither, and to go away from Him.
Some say there are other ways to approach sanctity, alternate routes, but Jesus has said that he is “The Way, the Truth and the Life”. ‘The’ – there is ONE.
Carrying is not enough. “FOLLOW ME” He commands. Setting your own goal of perfection is guaranteed to fall short of God’s. We have to “be perfect as the Father is perfect.”
How does one do all that? We are told to be as perfect as God is, to carry a cross, and to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Seems rather impossible. It is – alone, at least.
If you think that your burden is too heavy, it’s probably because you are hauling your own around and left His on the ground a few miles back. What He gives us to carry is “Easy and…light”. He took everything on in His Cross, and now gives us a splinter to carry in proportion to our strength.
Use the rest of Lent to look to God for guidance in all things, never be satisfied in where you are in relation to Him, and stop following your ideas and standards – drop them all – take what He gives you and follow HIM up the mountain.