Friday, March 03, 2006


Lent is here, and we are still trying to remember not to say the alleluia at the beginning of the Divine Office.

I was trying to settle my lenten sacrifices, albeit a bit late, but this year I am inspired to really benefit from the sacrifices. This theme of "It's not what you give up, but what you embrace" keeps ringing in my head. It all started with last sunday's sermon at St Stephen's church, by Fr Paul Staes, CICM. (Oh yah which reminds me, I didn't pen down any reflection on that visit)

The only part I remember about his sermon was, "Some of you will give up watching tv. But maybe instead of giving up tv, you should watch, but be selective of what you watch, and use it to increase your faith. Maybe borrow a inspiring movie, and use it to bring you closer to God." After that my mind went on thinking on that statement, and I didn't listen to the rest of his sermon.

Then at yesterday's evening prayer, the scripture reading was from Jam 4:7-8,10

So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds.
Which brought to mind Fr Ignatius' sermon some weeks back on the Gospel about the unclean spirit that was cast out and returned back with seven more. I never understood that passage, until he explained that, when we "cast out" our sinful ways, there is an void left in us, and unless we fill it with God and His love, the sin will return and even stronger. And so this passage from James really summerises the 2 dimensions I have to consider in my lenten sacrifices. How are my sacrifices helping me stand firm against the devil? and how are they helping me to draw closer to God?

And then today's mass readings.
"Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me?" - Isa 58:7
"For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, a contrite spirit; a humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn. - Psa 51:18-19
So this lent, I can fast, I can give up entertainment time, I can spend less on "comfort items", even give up my "bookouts". But what I am going to fill in those voids with. The obvious answer is God. But what practical ways can I do that.
"Lord, grant me the grace to see the world thru your eyes. Give me the strength to persevere in my lenten sacrifices, to stand firm against the devil and his temptations. Show me how to fill myself with your Love. And above all, grant me a humble and contrite heart, to draw myself ever closer to you. That after these 40 days I may celebrate you resurrection with a resounding Alle---a"

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