At some point this Lent, I want to be more serious.
I think I’ve told myself that every day, since day 1…Lent is already almost over. Friends, pretty soon, we’re folding palms, walking to Golgotha, spending the night for the Apocalypse, and singing “Ekhristos Anesti” – Christ is risen. And responding to those who volunteer the ‘Good news’ with “Truly, He is risen”
What is it then that’s missing from my Lent? How can I be more serious?
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “the ENDS justify the MEANS”. Admittedly I’ve used this to make amends within myself after breaking rules (daily, to be honest). It’s something that we (potentially) say to assuage deserved penalties after completing a task in a less-than-ideal-way. Usually this is a mental ‘prize’ when I succeed at attaining the ENDS we had in mind.
Well…this is today’s 1 thing that’s needed. And hopefully we can keep it in mind for the rest of this magnificent season of our year.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 NKJV
My brothers and sisters, if our Goal is supreme to everything else, and we focus on it, we will succeed. So – this is what I need to do to have a ‘successful’ Lenten journey – keep the goal on my mind.
St Anthony helps us a bit with this reminder:
I must die daily, so that I can live eternally
See…I know if you’re reading this, you probably enjoy something about the Great Lent, but you (like me) find yourself looking forward to Pascha. I want to fast-forward the 7 weeks. If I can ‘keep my eyes on the Prize’ then I can do what St Anthony reminds us to do.
A daily death?! O goodness, how dismal?
I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 1 Corinthians 15:31 NKJV
Imagine- on the car-ride home after school, a mom asks her son, “So son, what’d you learn today?”
“How to die, mom”, he responds, nonchalantly.
She’d be terrified! (try it…)
Now, what if this conversation took place in the car, after Sunday-School? Would mom’s reaction be any different? Would this be strange? Probably not.
This is the sixth step. He who has mounted it will never sin again. Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin. -St John Climacus (Ladder of Divine Ascent)
See, the church in Her wisdom, teaches the remembrance of death every single day
“Behold, I am about to stand before the Just Judge…” – 12th hour
“…O my soul, be mindful of that awesome day, and wake up and light your lamp with the oil of joy, for you do not know when the voice will call upon you saying: “Behold, the Bridegroom is coming.” – 1st Watch Midnight hour
“…What a Judgment mine will be, I who am entangled by sin?! Who would quench the flames of fire about me?! Who would enlighten my darkness, unless You, Lord?! Have mercy on me, for You are compassionate to mankind.” – Veil hour prayers
Is the church being excessively negative? No dear friends. Because our death is the necessary step towards Life. Good Friday is the step towards the tomb, and the tomb is the step before the Glorious Resurrection. Check out what St Paul says here,
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV
He begins with an If – this is a conditional statement. IF I fast, IF I struggle, IF I die with Him on the Cross, IF I go to the tomb, THEN I can experience His Resurrection, and live in His glory, eternally. (forgive my poor sentence structure, I got excited)
But seriously…who wouldn’t want this? Our God is not an excluder, friends. He is Love. By His Nature, He seeks to pull us in to His Kingdom. He wants this coming Feast of the Resurrection, for each of us to celebrate a new life. For each of us to rise from our life of sin. But I resist, I turn away. I say, “I’ll go to church next week”, “I’ll fast tomorrow”, “I’ll go out tonight – it’s a big event”, excuses.
IF I can keep the end in mind, then the rest will align.
Remember friends #1thingisneeded – if we remember the Resurrection that awaits us after Lent, we will find the Way. He is the Way. Remember our death, so we can live forever. He is our Life. Let us fast and pray, denying our will, so that His will can be firm in our heart.
Understand two thoughts, and fear them. One says, “You are a saint,” the other, “You won’t be saved.” Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful. He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins. –St Silouan the Athonite