Ash Wednesday is tomorrow. This’ll be my third season of Lent. For the first one I had my epic reception into the Church to look forward to, which helped give me the motivation to stick by the rather tough list of penances I had sketched out for myself. The second one started out kind of crappy, but got better as it went along.
This year…I think it’s gonna be similar. Part of me really doesn’t want it to be Lent yet, so I’m counting on grudging acceptance to gradually give way to actual fervor. And, you know, that part of me could probably use a good ass-kicking anyway. Spiritual warfare and all that.
Which is why, incidentally, I’m not opposed to the idea of the Church raising the bar on fasting/abstinence requirements, because I am not very ascetic at all, and tend to gravitate towards the minimum requirements. Orthodox Lent is still pretty demanding, and that seems to be pretty fruitful for them. Us westerners can be kind of wimpy.
But even if things don’t ‘click’ together for me this year, I think there’s value in just struggling a bit. I try to pray the Rosary every day, and I still find it a difficult prayer to do well. But I appreciate that I always at least have that 10-15 minute struggle to keep my mind focused on Jesus and Mary. The penitential aspect of Lent isn’t a self-betterment project but an attempt to have a greater purity of heart, and sometimes that just means having a bit of a wrestle with yourself, even if it feels like you “get nothing” from it.