|Blessed Holy Water gone from stoups,|
but where is the traditional
Blessed Lenten Sand
Funny how Saint Corbinian's Bear Lenten Companion for Bearish Humans describes the very same challenges. Religion as a near occasion of sin and legitimate disappointment in one's shepherds. Poor Bear has been dealing with this stuff since the 8th Century and still struggles.
Most of all, the Bear realizes that he foresaw what would challenge him Sunday, and yet, stupidly, he did not prepare himself in advance. For a Bear who is supposed to be Lenting smart, this was a huge oversight.
Here are 10 unintended lessons he learned Sunday. At the end is a video that inspires the Bear during Lent, although he must admit St. Benedict would not approve. One of the most important lessons is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
10 Unintended Lessons the Bear Learned Sunday
- Most important is this: Usually, we are hurt more by our reaction ("the very idea!") than the actual injury. There may be a bit of ego hidden beneath the scandal (although that does not take responsibility from the one causing scandal.) A little bit of Bearish righteous indignation goes a long way.
- The second is we do not have to stick our heads in the sand and pretend there are no problems. That would not be honest. There are big problems. The real question, then, is narrow: How do we plan on dealing with them during this Lent? Are we stuck complaining about the same things from year to year?
- We must Lent smart. That means planning to meet foreseeable challenges. For example, if we know some upcoming religious event will be turned into political theater, we should decide in advance the best response. You may hear some obnoxious hobbyhorse flogged every Sunday. Where the Bear is, it's all about the interfaiths. The Devil is clever, but prefers to get under your skin in ways that have proved reliable in the past. His tactics should not surprise smart Christians and should definitely be a part of the plans for your Tower of Lent.
- The Bear expected some jiggery-pokery with the holy water during Lent. Yes, he thinks removing it shows confusion between a blessed sacramental and a mere symbol and is a dumb local innovation. What can he say, except, o tempera, o mores? He can use all the holy water he wants at home, or even bring it with him to church if he needs it that bad. (See 1 above.)
- Similarly, when it comes to Holy Scripture, the Bear knows the USCCB's NABRE has inclusive language and smartest-kid-in-the-room footnotes that appear to question the unique inspired character of the Bible. Since that bothers the Bear, he must either ignore it or pick a different approved translation.**
- We must expect that the Devil will hit us where it hurts the most during Lent: our religion. Knowing this going in, we should plan a sound strategy and pick ourselves up when we get knocked down anyway. For the Bear, that usually takes 24 hours: some growling, some ranting, some thinking, a quiet talk with God, and a good night's sleep. (Reading Lamentations helped put things in perspective, too.)
- During Lent, we should focus on prayer, fasting and alms, one day at a time. We should take each day as a lesson, just as the Bear did during his very first Lent and is still doing 1300 years later. We can learn even from our failures. Remember: experience is not what happens to you, it's what you learn from what happens to you.
- Whatever else is going on in the wide world beyond our homes, the actual daily practice of Christianity remains the same: (1) a consistent prayer life; (2) regular devout reading of Holy Scripture; (3) cultivating an appreciation for the presence of God in our daily lives; (4) trying to conform ourselves to the requirements of our religion; and (5) following a sensible personal rule.
- We are all psychologically different. Some of us meet frustration with plenty of room to back up and handle it. Others (Bears) live with their backs to the wall. We should always strive for insight into our own psychology as one ingredient to Lenting smart- and living smart. In a way, you might see your Christian life as a whole boiled down to the essentials during these 40 days.
- If your religion consistently robs you of the peace of Christ, you might sit down and take inventory of specific problems. Where can you humble yourself by submitting your intellect? Where are you being stubborn and self-willed? How often do you seek and find perverse enjoyment in scandal? How do you plan on dealing with the real obstacles while remaining true to your faith?
On second thought, perhaps these lessons might not have been intended by any human, but God Himself knows what the Bear needs to learn.
Some Wise Words on Lent from Fred & Ginger
(Unless Ginger is a Near Occasion of Sin)
from Swing Time, RKO, 1936
from Swing Time, RKO, 1936
*As an aside, suggestions to find a traditional parish are not helpful for many who live hours from a major metropolitan area. Moreover, it's just not the style of Bears to give up their territory. Experience has taught the Bear that if he cannot live his faith in his own parish, he doubts he would be able to do better somewhere else. His instinct is to stay and adapt to harsh conditions.
**The RSV2-CE Ignatius Press Didache Bible is much better, but even it includes a disclaimer for the beginning of chapter 9 of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) about the Jewish "patriarchal society," to go with the NABRE's fancier "androcentric viewpoint." So much fuss over sound advice to men about avoiding near occasions of sin! See this EWTN page for a concise rundown of Catholic Bibles.