25 February 2014

Questions to ask before entering into Lent

With Ash Wednesday now being just seven days away, the beginning of Lent will soon be upon us. If you listen attentively to the readings of Sacred Scripture which will be proclaimed for our meditation in these coming days at the Holy Mass, we will discern a summons to a sort of preparation for the coming days which will be given over to increased prayer, faster, and alms-giving.

Today, for example, the Apostle James admonishes us with these words: "So submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you" (James 4:7-10).

There is a constant temptation for us to be of two minds, on the hand to be focused and attached to the things of this world and on the other hand to be continually drawn to set our focus and to attach ourselves to the things of heaven. Most often than not we struggle back and forth between the two. In these days as Lent approaches, we would do well to prayerfully consider our attachments, asking honestly to what we are attached and what attachments need to be broken, lessened, or strengthened.

To this end, Saint Anthony of Padua proposes a series of questions we would well to take to prayer:
What are those things worthy of a prince that you should devise, O prince, spirit of man? Only to return into yourself, enter your own heart, and there take counsel; what you are, what you might have been, what you ought to be, what you could be. What you might have been by nature, what you are by guilt, what you ought to be by effort, what you can still be by grace (Sermon for the Chair of Peter, 3).

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