Here I am at the beginning of another Lent. Along with the effort to get me and mine to church on Sunday, to find time and quiet for prayer at home, I will add whatever discipline I can for a holy Lent. I will probably start faltering about day three or four, and I will have excellent reasons for that—small children at home; husband away often; a house we’re fixing up; too tired. I know ahead of time that these things are part of my life. So why do I set myself up for failure? Why do I even bother being religious? I don’t believe that hell awaits me if I don’t go to church, so what draws me to this struggle?
There have been times in my life when religious practice was non-existent and I gave no more than a cursory consideration to the spiritual. At such times, my life was perfectly normal and . . . flat. I found life lacked dimension and meaning, and the additional time I gained was a poor trade-off. I acknowledge a spiritual need in my life, and in that need I require the foundation of a faith tradition and community of other seekers. Saint Paul’s letters show that he understood people like me. I can appreciate his concern that believers in this young faith have support in a world so ready to look askance at them. He states in today’s reading that “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ . . . their god is the belly . . . their minds are set on earthly things.” A god of the belly does not answer a spiritual need. When I contemplate Christ and my life as Christian, when I speak to or read from people who also consider these things, I find support for a grand journey that makes my life richer by far than anything I might find on my own.
So I will strive for a holy Lent and a blessed life.