“Lord, may everything we do begin with your inspiration, continue with your help, and reach perfection under your guidance”.
The Lenten season has arrived. This 40-day period is a time to reflect on the ways we have been and are being tested in our lives. A time to step outside the everyday hustle and bustle and examine things that really matter. A time to recognize ways we can and should be better human beings, not in temporal terms but those things that bring genuine joy.
There is certainly enough strife in the world that we can easily fall prey to judging the faults of other and prescribing how they should change. This approach however, is an exercise in suppressing your own joy. If, at the time you are having these judgmental feelings, you happened to look in a mirror, the reflection would be dour and unappealing.
In the words of Pope Francis, “The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience.”
I am struck by the fact that the term “hater” has become so prevalent in our society. It is derived from the spontaneous outpourings of derogatory comments and opinions aimed at the efforts of others. Hating serves no useful purpose but many are choosing this mode of expressing themselves in the social media and other traditional media. “Bullying” is another term that has gained prominence. This is actually an ancient practice that has escalated to such an extent that in schools, for example, specific ground rules are now in place to discourage this behaviour.
While these are worrisome trends and behaviours, the fact that many in society are working to change it, is sign of hope. The question is whether or not we are fanning or dousing these flames of hope.
While Lent is Christian in its origin, everyone I have ever met seems to have a built-in recognition that from time to time, it is important to take stock and renew ourselves. While we are often “incident” driven, our interpretations of these episodes can have far-reaching effects on ourselves and on those we meet.
How often do we consciously ask ourselves if these interpretations cause us to be force for good? What criteria do we use? Here are some questions you may find useful:
- Think of a time when you know you made a mistake.(the more recent the better)
- Why do you consider it a mistake?
- Who did affect and how?
- What have you learned?
- What changes did/will you make to obtain improvement?
I would like to end with some words from Pope Francis’ book: “The Joy of the Gospel”:
“Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to live a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good.”
Let’s see what we can change to make ourselves and the world a better place.