Posted by catholicsensibility under humor
, Lent  Comments
Merry Christmas. Happy Easter. We Christians hit up our friends and some strangers on big feasts with pumped up versions of hi-how-are-you.
Nothing much for Lent, though. If you’re like me, same ol’, same ol’.
Have you ever wondered why we don’t extend Lenten greetings? Sure, “merry” and “happy” don’t seem to fit our annual practices of ashing ourselves and giving up sweets and warm-blooded animal dinners on Fridays. But could we say something while we’re wandering the desert tired, hungry, and without our internet connections?
What descriptive word or words could we attach to “Lent,” if we were ever to develop a greeting custom on which the secular culture could then declare war?
Maybe a bit too pious. Ditto for:
Can Lent be “good,” like Friday?
A Good Lent to you!
The Lectionary makes mention of Lent as a “joyful” season, but I doubt any of us outside of Vox Clara are buying into that. The French have “Joyeux Noël,” but I can’t see them getting excited about
Nope. Not at all.
Maybe we just pass each other on the street and give a thumbs-up, especially if that digit was dipped in ashes and we’re not washing ourselves whiter than snow.
Certainly, there is another strain that might suggest we give up on greeting other people at all. But assuming that a “season’s greetings” is needed for these 40 days, what would you suggest?
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
These selected verses conclude the Lectionary’s longest psalm offering, the 51st–nearly in its entirety. Verses 14 and 17 are merged into one stanza. The suggested antiphon is derived from the first of these. Liturgy of the Hours practitioners will recognize one of the most-uttered lines of Scripture in all Christendom.
I don’t know what your attention is drawn to in this psalm, but “spirit,” appearing several times, is noticeable to me this Lent. “Spirit” has perhaps a spotty reputation in some circles these days. Hardcore Catholics dismiss the “spiritual but not religious” moniker. But I can’t say I totally disagree with the sentiment. It seems very Matthew 21:28ff-ish. I’d rather have an interior orientation to God, despite my interjections of refusal, denial, or whatnot. And we might be straying into pharisaical territory ourselves by criticizing those who do all the right religious things on the outside. Do we really embrace the duality that they must be secret sinners? I hope not. This isn’t an either-or situation. Sin is not only tricky, but pervasive.
The psalmist has been pouring out deep feelings, intense contrition, and is obviously in anguish over the harm done to God by sin. These verses suggest to me that if contrition can touch our inmost parts–heart and spirit–then God’s grace has truly had some effect on us. And that is a source of trust–that we can rely on God’s love. Other people may decline to forgive our trespasses, but God sees what is hopefully a deep resolve to reform. And while God may have doubts about external actions, the true battleground of virtue is deep within.
Your thoughts, observations? All of Psalm 51 is here. The cited verses of Psalm 51 are 3-6b (skipping 6cd), 7-14, 17, and 19. Did the framers of the Rite of Penance miss anything?
I used to contribute sporadically to blog carnivals. But they seemed to have disappeared mostly, at least from the Catholic bloggerhood. Or the hoods I visit regularly to occasionally. That would be an interesting phenomenon to study. But another day.
Enjoy the 290th Space Carnival, where I’ve made my first small carnival contribution in some time.