Posted by Br George Van Grieken
on 11 March 2019
You have to suffer a constant martyrdom that is no less violent for the spirit than Saint Bartholomew's was for his body. You must, so to speak, tear off your own skin, which Saint Paul calls the old man, in order to be clothed with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is, according to the same Apostle, the new man. Let this, then, be your effort throughout your life, so that you may truly become disciples of Jesus Christ.
- St. John Baptist de La Salle1
Lent is just around the corner, and the prospect of "mortification" and "fasting" and "discipline" is not on the top ten list of anyone I know. Most of us see this time of preparation for Easter as the "less fun" season of the liturgical year; no peppy Lent songs like before Christmas, and less decoration. But Lent has gotten a bad rep. As Anthony Bloom says so well, "Contrary to what many think or feel, Lent is a time of joy. It is a time when we come back to life. It is a time when we shake off what is bad and dead in us in order to become able to live, to live with all the vastness, all the depth, and all the intensity to which we are called. . . . This notion of joy that is connected with effort, with ascetical endeavor, with strenuous effort may indeed seem strange, and yet it runs through the whole of our spiritual life, through the life of the Church and the life of the Gospel." If we are to be like Jesus, if we are to draw out the Reign of God in our midst, then we have to come to the realization that "The Kingdom of God is something to be conquered. It is not simply given to those who leisurely, lazily wait for it to come."
So if we are to take Lent seriously, there is work involved. And as with all spiritual things in our lives, such work is a matter of desire, drive, and discipline. We all need a Lent coach!