A reader writes:
I was wondering if we could have a meditation or two about our Lenten promises. I know we did this at the beginning, but I was wondering if perhaps the 5 year old philosophers could share with us what they think and what their Sunday school teachers say about breaking your Lenten promises. About falling off the wagon, so to speak.
I have noticed that I have become, particularly now when are getting so close to Easter, quite lax in maintaining my Lenten promise. Conviction has given way to convenience. One break or mistake has given way to the slippery slope – “well, I have already cheated” “or, well, I have already messed up…..” I feel sort of like that scene in Circle of Friends when Minnie Driver’s character, Benny, says in a moment of pity and self doubt, and reaching for a chocolate candy she had been trying not to eat “Oh, go on Benny, ruin yourself.” That once I have been imperfect, the quest to even try to honor myself and my promise to God, seems wasted.
Easter is just over two weeks away — is it too late for me to get back on the horse? To finish the race I started? Is it too late for me?
Sometimes I wonder if my problems maintaining my Lenten promise reveals a good deal about how I live outside of Lent.
The reader strikes a chord. I am not a philosopher or theologian, so I have asked that Will and Jake help our reader and all of us with this one.
What I think is that our reader rather than failed, has succeeded, in understanding Lent. Lent is about understanding our human frailty. As we try to honor our promise to God we confront humanities’ answer to obedience — rationalization. Often rationalization wins out. It is at these moments we see the nature of God. He forgives, he comforts,and most importantly he loves.
We also see our nature. We are human and we seek what is comfortable. But, if we remain open, we learn. Any athlete will tell you that you learn more from your failures than your successes. That any rider will tell you that the only thing to do is get back on the horse. Imperfection is not a waste, but an opportunity.
God considered not action, but the spirit of action. It is the intention, not the deed, wherein merit or praise of the doer consists. — Pierre Ab ailard