My stomach has butterflies today, but then it always does on Shrove Tuesday. Today will be a day of celebration, in its way. We'll go to the K of C Pancake Supper tonight at church. We'll eat, drink and be merry, knowing that tomorrow will begin the season we all, secretly or openly, welcome and adore.
We live in a culture of excess--too much food, too much drink, too much sex, too much stuff. I contend it's why we have a hard time following the church calendar--it's almost impossible, in a culture of permanent feasting, to make feast days anything really special. We need to recapture some sense of "ordinary time"--a time from which it is possible to go UP for feast days (without breaking the bank, a la Christmas) and DOWN for fast days (which wouldn't include spending more on food by buying expensive fish than you would on a regular day!). But that's an essay for ordinary time. Remind me later, and I'll tell you what I think.
But that's why I think Lent has such a hold on our imaginations and hearts. We KNOW we live in excess. The voluntary shedding of that is something we CAN do, and makes us feel objectively good to do it. So we ponder our spiritual lives. What will be enough. What should I be doing that I'm not. What will cause me enough discomfort to call my mind to Christ, but not so much that I fall away from the program altogether. There is a frisson of excitement about denial. It does our heart good.
I, like the rest of you, have been pondering. Today will be the time that the pondering will end, and the program will be set. I suspect that a major part of it will be praying the Liturgy of the Hours from the Book of Divine Worship. I also think that it will entail getting my physical house in order and bringing a sense of holy workmanship and attention to detail to the volunteer work I have set my hand to. Ora et labora, so to speak. And I'll be meditating through my Conversation with God book.
But all the programs and intentions in the world won't make a difference unless they bring us closer to the crucified Christ. May we, like the blessed Virgin, be willing to walk with Jesus all the way to the Cross.
Bless us, every one.