|Maria Romine (the only good person in the Theater of the Word Incorporated) as St. Jeanne Jugan|
"Which ruined the entire sacrifice," I exclaimed. "Yes, Maria, your pride in your penance will no doubt send you straight to hell. Some Lent!"
Of course I was joking - though there was a point behind the humor.
On Saturday I was in Kansas, planning on going to the Vigil Mass at a large suburban parish in Kansas City. I've been there before. One "peace" isn't enough. They make you turn around and greet your neighbors before Mass even begins. Haugen and Haas and Schutte dominate the music, which is really schutte music, and the place is packed with a kind of giddy stupid excitement that makes it darned near impossible to pray, much less worship. But as it turns out I couldn't make it to the Vigil - not that I minded.
|What it's like at the suburban parish vigil Mass|
|St. Jude Chapel, Aquinas College, Nashville, TN|
Or, to put it more charitably, our biggest temptation during Lent is to look at our penances as accomplishments of ours to show God how good we are or to make some sort of impact in heaven. They should rather be ways of reminding ourselves how much we depend upon God - and how many blessings and graces He gives us. They should be ways of opening ourselves up to his grace - which is the only thing that transforms us, not our own efforts.
Likewise, Christ's temptations in the desert are temptations common to all men. He is tempted
- To turn stones into bread - or to use his spiritual gifts to satisfy his physical desire (see pretty much everything I've written the last month or so, which is almost all on this very subject); whereas "man does not live by bread alone".
- To use his gifts for worldly advantage, to rule over the nations. How ubiquitous this temptation is for us, day in and day out. The world is all about power and success, even more than it is about sex, and we go through life breathing this poisoned air, and assuming that success in this world is all there is. This gives rise to the heresy of Activism, and to Catholics arguing that we must ignore Christ's teaching in order to bring His Kingdom to bear on earth - for worldly success is all that we really think matters.
- To put God to the test - to think of Him as a tool or gimmick of ours that we can use to turn our lives to our own narrow advantage - to put God in a box and make him do tricks for us.
Such are the temptations of man, and such are we that we eagerly respond to these temptations, even the best of us, even Maria Romine!
May we offer up our Lenten sufferings with true humility, knowing that the only lasting reality is Love, and that if we trust in God's Love - in His precious blood - to save us, He will strip from us all the things that are standing in the way.