|'The Fight Between Carnival and Lent', Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559.|
Living the Spirit of Lent
|'Christ in the Desert', Ivan Kramskoi, 1872.|
“I Desire Love not Sacrifice”
Getting to the Heart of It
|'Holding Stone Heart', St. Takla (web).|
Do we have any attachments to anything or anyone other than God? Attachments to anything or anyone other than God are like chains that tie us down to the world and prevent us from rising up in freedom of spirit to God above who dwells within. To be attached to people - relatives, friends, spouses, girl friends, boy friends etc. - is acclaimed as a virtue by the world since it is confused with authentic love. To be detached from people requires us to not remain indifferent to them, not at all, but rather to put God first if ever such decisions must be made, and to love all people not for their own sake or for one's own sake, but for the sake of God - and this heavenly love is selfless and self-forgetful. If we are attached to certain people, and we are all bound to be, and even if we aren't, such attachments can easily return, we must pray that God would detach us from them, for only then can we begin to be truly free to love them selflessly without being dependent or expectant on their loving us in return. Perhaps we are attached to temporal goods, such as food, wine, money, concerts, movies; or to natural goods, such as our own knowledge, skills, 'good looks', personality; or even to spiritual goods, such as to consolations in prayer, religious objects, a certain church, certain ways of praying, insights in prayer. All of these temporal, natural and spiritual goods are good and harmless in and of themselves, and can be used, if used correctly and in moderation, for the glory of God. But if we find ourselves delighting in any of these things for their own sake, and not for God's sake; or if any of these things is taken away from us and we become inordinately upset and interiorly disturbed, then we are most certainly attached to them, and thus some form of chain, rope or thread is holding us down, restricting us in that freedom and joy of the Spirit to which we are called. We must desire to break these attachments, begging God each and every day to cut us free. We must rejoice in all things, whether temporal, natural or spiritual, for God's sake alone. It sounds like we're setting the bar too high, but we're all called to be saints, and the saints didn't start out perfect, they were simply sinners like all of us who reached perfection by never saying no to God, but always yes, even when it hurt - seeking only His Will and dying to their own.