2012년 2월 21일 화요일
Our Lady and Lent
De Maria numquam satis.
The dreaded season of Lent is right in front of us as we speak.
Oooh.. is it going to be chocolate again? Poor Chocolate industry, their livestock happens to be the most popular denial for Lent. But then they are merrily going on so that must mean we sort of give up giving chocolate up shortly after the fateful Wednesday, right? I always set off my Lenten expedition with epic resolutions and not even half of them reach the shore. Really, I am hardly qualified to talk about Lent and Penance. These pixies with horns always win over me!
How would have Our Lady spent Her Lent if she were to?
Well, one thing is clear; She probably would not have said Hail Mary! She would not salute to Herself, right? No, but seriously, I think She would have only done things that would have been perfectly to God's liking. As the uniquely immaculately conceived, mankind's one pride, She was the only human being who could perfectly love whilst on earth. She did not have the stain of Original Sin and therefore that means Her love would have been of entirely different dimension as ours, born with Original Sin and still suffering from its aftermath.
So maybe, drawing ourselves closer spiritually as well as physically (wherever possible) to Christ is the name of the game. Our Lord says "I am meek and humble of heart." (Matthew 11:29) Maybe I should try to be meeker and humbler of heart. (By the way, how Our Lord could be "humble" I cannot fully understand but I did read "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death..." refer to Phil 2:6-9) He also says "I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Maybe whilst I cannot give life as He did, I could at least evangelise more fervently and by so doing, bring more people to Christ that they may have that life more abundantly. Isaiah tells us of Christ's Passion; "But He was wounded for our iniquities: He was bruised for our sins." (Isaiah 53:4-6) It might require much spiritual direction to take on corporal mortification but at least I could try to kneel more in Church and sleep on the floor for a few days in Lent. I found a brilliant quote for this; "When the Head is crowned with thorns ....(....).... surely the members should be ashamed to be pampered." (St Bernard, quote from "Penance and Fasting" by Msgr Philip E. Hallett)
One thing I found very helpful, I started to shut my eyes during Liturgy of the Eucharist as mortification of sight. St Thomas Aquinas tells us that "Sight, touch and taste in Thee are each deceived; The ear alone most safely is believed." I also get very easily distracted and day-dream constantly. So I keep my eyes shut and so long as I stay awake, I seem to find it easier to stay focused in Mass.
Lastly, as the Psalmist says in Miserere mei (Ps Ch 50 : 19), "A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit; a contrite and humbled heart O God, thou wilt not despise." if I persevere in that right mindset, God will find my Lenten observances pleasing.
My Spiritual Director introduced me to Asceticism. I guess it was about time that I took my Faith seriously. I always conveniently evaded mortification, penance etc saying "Oh, I am not very good at that." or "Oh, I have no will power at all!" or even "I will take things up instead!" But Asceticism is about purging, illuminating and unifying. I need to overcome the first hurdle, purgative, to even dream of being closer to God.
So how does all this relate to Our Lady, in the end? She needed no Asceticism; she needed no purging, no illuminating and no unifying. But as always, She will be watching us by our side as we die to our sin and concupiscence, as She watched Her Son sacrificing Himself to atone for them. Her witness of Her Son's death, whilst it would have tortured Her in anguish beyond compare, with Her reason without any impurities, would have been a witness to the fulfillment of God's promise from the Old Testament era. She might have even, in some way, rejoiced, in seeing the consummation of God's Will. She only wishes what God desires; if God's desire was restoration of mankind to the state of grace, She would have also waited eagerly for it. As one of the very few people who watched Christ's Death at the foot of the Cross, I believe Our Lady would have seen and contemplated on some very valuable things. By the way, for those people who go on about "Collegiality of bishops", the only collegiality of bishops I have seen from the Gospels was them fleeing at the sight of danger. L.O.L.
Anyway, a Happy (Stations of the Cross?), fulfilling (yeah, right) and Holy Lent may I wish for all of us, that we may put up a good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) for these 40 days (Sundays do not count!), overcome our worst demons through prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20 in Douay-Rheims; unless otherwise stated, I quote Douay-Rheims) and eventually welcome the triumphant season of Easter.