Focus On Self

10 Mar

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant.  Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen.”  ~ St. Ephraim the Syrian

Lent.  It is a penitential season that is given to us each year in order to be prepared for the glories of Easter. Throughout the Lenten season, we are challenged to look deep within ourselves, identify the things that hinder us from getting closer to God, and make a plan to rid ourselves of those hindrances.

Lent is a very personal season.  It is, in many ways, all about us.  Yes, Lent is a time for self.  It is not a time to look at others, to cast aspersions at others, or to demand that others change.  Lent is all about looking inward.

Looking inward, especially with a goal of identifying our own sinfulness, is contrary to human nature.  We would rather do anything than to admit that we have faults and that we need to change.  But this season challenges us to admit our failings and to begin to do something about them.

That second part is very important: do something about them.  We might be able to admit our faults; however, we might not be very motivated to change.  We might say to ourselves that we are not as bad as others.  We do not sin the way others do.  Our sins are trivial in light of others.  Ah, therein lies the rub.  We are not supposed to look at others. Doing so, we are tempted to minimize our own guilt.  If we do that, we are less likely to make the effort to change.

The problem in life is that we are often too busy looking outward rather than inward.  We would rather find fault with others.  We would rather think that the world would be better if we could change others.  However, if we leave ourselves unchanged, what good does that really do us?

We have heard, all through our lives, that we are supposed to take responsibility for ourselves.  Lent is a very holy season that gives us the opportunity to do just that.  Now, some of you may read this and say, “You know.  Lent started last Wednesday and I didn’t do anything.  I guess I’ll just wait until next year to make changes in my life.”

That would be the wrong answer!  Any day is an appropriate day to examine our lives, identify what needs to change, and make a plan to do so.  If you missed beginning Lent last Wednesday, begin it today — at this very moment.

FAITH ACTION:  Hold fast to your Lenten resolutions.  If you have not made any as of this time, make sure to do so today.