Have you failed in your Lenten penance yet? I have… and it wasn’t even a fight. I just kind of shrugged it off. Then I dragged myself to bed, falling asleep while pondering what the Lord must think of this half-hearted priest. And in the morning, there he was, waiting for me in the chapel. What did I have to say for myself? Would this be yet another morning of noble aspirations, fervent resolutions, and sighs of longing for holiness? Another set of promises… This time I will be more disciplined… this time I will embrace the cross. And will the evening not bring yet another hearty *shrug* as I just let go of the reins and allow time and tiredness to bring me to whatever dissipating distraction happens to come along?
Of course, not every night ends like this, but it’s more often than it should be. And, God’s grace somehow keeps the articles coming, the homilies preached, the sick anointed, masses said, calls returned… but where is the zeal? Where is the fervor of love and the dedication of self-denial that is supposed to characterize Lent? Where is the love?
Do you love me? Jesus asked Peter this after his denial and I could almost swear that sometimes I hear him say that when I gaze upon the Blessed Sacrament. Especially the morning after an epic “meh” towards that promise to just turn off the TV, to just go to bed when I planned. All the heartfelt prayers, the genuine sense of devotion, the desire to try again… all stopped dead in it’s tracks by that question.
“Yes, of course I love you Lord! I’m still here, aren’t I?” Do you love me? What can I answer to that? What can any of us say to that after we fail at something as simple as saying no a dessert, a steak, a pointless hour in front of the television. Who can possibly look the Lord in the eye, that all-seeing eye, and honestly say “I love you” knowing full well that they will likely set such love aside with barely a struggle, just as long as it’s a “small sin?”
Do you love me? “You know everything Lord, you know that I love you!” God, I really do love you… I really do want to live that love. I may not get it right today; I might not get it right this Lent, but I will keep trying. My God, it might be a languid love, but it is real, so I beg you: