Thursday, March 02, 2006


Lent, like March, began with a lion – the Old Testament words of Jeff Culbreath who posted letters from pontiffs who took seriously their responsibility to their flock. The words singe with alacrity, a rousing from the tyranny of inertia and “the way things are” and too easeful moving between the sacred and the secular.

My malaise seems self-inflicted. I realized today at church, while praying the psalms, how much I needed to pray the psalms. And why haven’t I? Why haven’t I drunk from the rich font of past papal encyclicals, of wise saints and the Church Fathers? How can I have missed Psalm 71 with its infant baptism reverberations:

Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother's womb.
My praise is continually of you.
I give God the mealy portion of a daily “get-it-over-with” Mass and little else. Given this time, I could at least use it prayerfully and by reading great books instead of blogging. Imagine the spiritual classics, not the least of which the bible, I could read. How hard it really is to say I am open to God! And yet in the fire of prayer it all seems irrelevant, myself that is, my condition, my self-criticism, my judgment. In the fire of real prayer perspective and priorities emerge only to immediately dissipate afterwards, like mirages in the desert. There is really only realness, and Realness means being willing to endure pain and/or discomfort, whether psychically or physically, and not being afraid of intimacy, illness, another’s egotism, another’s apostasy, another’s lack of prayerfulness, all these things I leave as burdens on Christ.

While with fasting I’m allergic to feelings of holiness, or at least suspicious of it as feeling good about myself because of my actions, one has little recourse but to feel good about oneself because it is only then you can, in a sense, get over yourself. By dwelling on my inadequacies I am distracted from God.

• • • • •

Long time no read. I should try to digest that post more thoroughly when it's not 5:22 a.m. A bunch of things caught my interest, like the "distracted by self" part. Been struggling for a long time to understand how people who are scrupulous, for example, could be "self-centered" -- aren't they/we just trying to please God or at least follow God's rules, which He set as a sort of minimum requirement? But it looks so ridiculous later on when you're over a particular baseless what-if-that's-a-sin panic. So it wasn't really exactly God Himself you were focused on. Wish I knew more how to focus on just Him. I read Internet question boxes and wonder at people coming up with all these "maybe it's a sin" things that God and His Church never explicitly mentioned and wonder mildly who they think they are to be the first to notice a new kind of mortal sin in all these millennia. But I'm not very different from those people. Oh well, rambling like old times, but I'm glad you're still blogging here and over there.
Hello Madame Owl! Good to hear from you again. And here I thought this blog was deader than the proverbial door nail.

As for refuting how the scrupulous could be self-centered, when you put it that way...I sometimes think of it more as a lack of trust in God, but then in the past when I sinned mortally I think: "I could've died in that state!" and so I tend to be more...scrupulous.

I'm perhaps too "law-based" rather than "love-based" which means I'm more worried about saving my own sin/soul.

Tom of Disputations wrote, "you obey the law as a means of training, of developing the habit of doing the right thing so that you will in time desire to do it apart from any question
of law."

Anyways, that's all probably redundant to you. I'm continually in search of answers. Hope you're having a good Lent.
ro - read the chapter on "Witness" in Neuhaus's "Death on a Friday Afternoon". Pretty good for the scrupulous.
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