Monday, February 26, 2018

Lentblogging Day 14 - Turning Outward

So far, it seems that the Bear has talked a lot of about practical methods to help you develop better habits. That's important, he thinks. Lent should be a time of growing in virtue and defeating vice, and we fail when we go into it with some vague idea of "improving ourselves."

But Lent is more than a period of self-help improvement. The Bear thinks the focus has too often been "it's all about me." My virtues, my vices, my fast, what I give up, etc.

Last time, the Bear wrote about the different ways people have helped him during Lent. You may have noticed the day before he was suffering from ennui. Did you happen to catch the difference? It means something when people remember you. It truly helps them. The Bear has not been feeling ennui since Sunday (although he has been very sleepy, which is normal for Bears). Now, he wants to flip that around and discuss the ways we can help others.

Some of the ideas in the last article were good ones. We should be generous with our financial resources where they are needed. We should lift up our Christian brothers and sisters in prayer. In fact, we should think of those of our communion as real brothers and sisters, with affection and care.

The Bear sometimes has the sense that people are praying for him.

The Communion of Saints is very real to the Bear. Here's an everyday example of the way we are connected. Bear cannot count the times he has picked up his phone to call his wife, only to have it ring in his hand with her at the other end. This is commonplace among people he knows. There is little doubt in the mind of the Bear that we are connected as Christians, and that such a special connection can exist even between bloggers and readers. Certainly between members of your parish, although it easier to be brotherly to those far away.

Up close we all know people can be challenging.

Not even death disrupts that connection, we are taught. What a blessing is the doctrine of Communion of the Saints!

This Lent we should be adding "a measure of service" to our "bona opera," or good work. We should turn outward from ourselves, however meritorious the work on our Tower of Lent is. It can begin with little things: getting someone that second cup of coffee, straightening up, just being kind and loving. Sending money to a good cause. Looking a stranger in the eye and giving a hello and a smile.

The world might be a little better place if we greeted everyone. Such a small thing.

Prayer should not be underestimated. We should pray for vocations, especially for our diocese and any religious house with which we are affiliated. In our Liturgy of the Hours for Oblates, so many of the prayer intentions are for "our absent confreres." And some of them are for the oblates. We pray for the monks, and we know they pray for us. We remember our Archabbey financially during Lent.

The most important thing to realize is that all our efforts are sterile - they will not produce fruit - if we do not take into account our brothers and sisters, whom we should truly love.


  1. Bear- Good Lent stuff for February 27, 2018 or any day.

    Isaac the Syrian (7th century), monk near Mosul
    Ascetical discourses, 1st. series no.49

    "Whoever humbles himself will be exalted"

    "God's providence, which is ever watchful to give each one of us what is for our good, has guided all things in our direction to lead us to humility. Since, if you take pride in the graces of providence, it will forsake you and you will fall back... Take note, then, that it belongs neither to you nor your virtue to resist evil inclinations, but that grace alone holds you in hand to keep you from being afraid... In time of testing groan and weep and call to mind your failings that you may be set free from pride and win humility. All the same, don't despair. Humbly beg God to forgive you your sins.

    Even without works, humility wipes out many faults. Without it, on the other hand, works are useless – they even lead to many evils. Therefore, obtain by your humility forgiveness for your unrighteousness. What salt is to every food, humility is to every virtue; it can break the strength of numberless sins... If we possess it, it can make us children of God and lead us to God even without the help of good works. That is why, without it, our works are of no value, our virtues are vain, and vain, too, is all our effort.

  2. Thank you so much, Mike. The Orthodox have a classic prayer for Great Lent from St. Ephraim that's a bit shorter:

    O Lord and Master of my life, grant me not a spirit of sloth, meddling, love of power, and idle talk.

    But give to me, your servant, a spirit of sober-mindedness, humility, patience, and love.

    Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, since you are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen.

  3. Bear, you are one of a kind. I'm grateful for you. You're a dear thing.


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