I also know how easy it is to become distracted, distorted and ensnared by the illusions and compulsions of daily life. That is why we need Lent as a yearly event. We need to be reminded of the malice of our sin, of the goodness of God, and the vigilant discipline that our spiritual freedom requires. In other words, we must be immersed again and again in the truly awful and awesome truth that we are loved sinners. If we submit ourselves fully to the disciplines of Lent so as to receive true Easter joy, several good results will follow. First, we will have true compassion for other sinners like ourselves. And we will have a righteous indignation on behalf of our loving Father’s heart when we see contempt heaped upon him by evil in this world. Taken together, the power of genuine compassion and righteous indignation can work wonders, if the two are freed and honed by Lenten disciplines. The disciplines of Lent will urge us to seek out the lost and to call them to conversion. The disciplines of Lent will also make us the fit warriors and sharp instruments that the war against evil requires.
As the season of Lent begins in 2015, if we are honest we will admit that we have before us a stark choice. On the one hand, we can pretend to be penitent, pretend to be joyful, and pretend to be grateful sons and heirs of the kingdom of God. Or, we can admit that we are called by God to wage war against the sin which is in our own hearts, hearts made to love God, and at the same time called to wage war against evil in the world, a world made to glorify God — and then we can prepare ourselves accordingly.
Our Heavenly Father deserves loyal sons and daughters. Our Church needs heroes who are bold and strong. The crucible of Lent is where such saints can begin to be made. When I write next, I will speak of using Lenten disciplines to train for Godly goals. Until then, let’s keep each other in prayer.
Father Robert McTeigue, S.J. is a member of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus. A professor of philosophy and theology, he has long experience in spiritual direction, retreat ministry, and religious formation. He teaches philosophy at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL, and is known for his classes in both Rhetoric and in Medical Ethics.