At the risk of sounding a bit too much like Matthew Kelly, I’ve got to say: there is genius in Lent. There is so much wisdom in having this time of repentance, of a renewed call, before entering into the glorious mystery of Eastertide.
The incredible gift of Easter, of Christ’s saving work in His Passion and Resurrection, can really be too great to understand, to receive well. We are offered unending life and undying love in a joyful union with God! And our truest desire, in our heart of hearts, is for these great and beautiful things: for God, for Heaven, for the Resurrection of the body.
But the problem is, in the constant stream of the small, easily satisfied desires, the little cravings and distractions, we have forgotten our heart’s great desire! We have forgotten who we are. We allow our sensual appetites to take center stage. There, they convince us of the urgency of their demands. They make us believe that we are well-entitled to our little entertainments, distractions, and comforts. And there, we lose ourselves in what we crave, forgetting our true calling, our heart’s true desire.
“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (1)
So, how do we rise above the little desires? How do we remember?
It is in the desert that our hunger is re-kindled. It’s as we deny our noisy little wants, bit by bit, that we realize what we truly thirsted for. It’s even in our frustration as we fail, time and time again, to deny those wants, that we come closer to seeing Easter for the gift it really is. For, at least now, we know the battle. We give ourselves the space to realize that we are neither entitled to, nor satisfied by, those little urgent cravings. We know our need, our desperate need. We begin to remember our desire. What’s more, with this renewed clarity, we can once again see the stark reality of the situation. Sin and grace. Fallenness and mercy. Refusal and acceptance. Black and white.
And it is here, once again, that we hear the Gospel call to repentance. We must either choose to cling to ourselves and lose ourselves, or to let go of our attachments, and gain our truest heart’s desire.
“If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.” (2)
This Lent, I challenge you (as I challenge myself along with you) to consider; how often do you give in to those easy little desires? How often does doing this actually block you from fulfilling the Great Desires? How much time do you really spend working towards the Great Desires – going towards God, towards Love? How aware are you of the Great Desires at all?
May God bless you this Lent. Take advantage of the desert. It’s a gift.
- C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory, (New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc.), 1980, p.4
- C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, The Signature Classics, (New York, NY: HarperOne), 2002, p.466
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