So we’re almost through with the second week of Lent…how are you doing with YOUR penances??? I’m not doing so well. I resolved to do three things, and two of them, I’m pretty much failing, with some reason. But penance is supposed to have some rigor, right?
First of all, the other day, a lady cut me off at a merge, and I cursed at her. I immediately apologized to God for it, but I did. Secondly, I committed to walking to church every day whether I could go to Mass or not. Things have kept me from doing so at least half the time-one some pain in my hip, one business. But even when I’ve been available to go, I haven’t. There’s an excuse, but excuses, you know, don’t fly. And thirdly, because I’m a fish-lover, I decided to not drink wine with my Friday meal. Well, last Friday, I forgot, and drank. My one resolution to pray the Divine Office, I’ve been able to keep. I’m also reading the Screwtape Letters. If you want insight as to how the devil works, this is an excellent read.
At any rate, my exhortation today is this: regardless of how you’ve done in your Lenten penances, I’m going to ask you to take a breath, and persevere. If you’ve failed at every one, start fresh. If you’ve succeeded at each and every one, maybe do some more, but at least keep going.
Another thing to look at is how you’re doing your penances…Mother Angelica famously said “If you give up coffee or chocolate, or whatever, for Lent, but you’re making everyone around you miserable because of your attitude, drink the coffee.” Remember that our fasts or penances are supposed to be somewhat private. You don’t do it for yourself, but for the love of God. That should make it a lot easier. If your fasting like they have to pry it out of your fingers, it’s not the right spirit. You gotta give it away. Cheerfully.
And lastly, start thinking about how you’re going to improve the rest of the year. Be in control of whatever vice you’re giving up. In the past, my Lenten penances, once the Easter Feast is done, I’ve gone on to continue. I didn’t quit smoking as a Lenten penance, but if I did, I’d not only quit, but if successful, I’d quit the rest of the year, and moving forward. Lenten penance is to master our desires. For us to be in control, with God’s help, of the gifts God gave us, to use them, and avoid letting them control us.
Go, therefore, and persevere.