Lent is nearly upon us. It comes late this year, with Easter falling on April 24th (the first Sunday after the first full moon – April 18th – after the first day of Spring – March 20th). My wife recently proclaimed, “I can’t believe it’s almost Lent already,” to which I (predictably) replied, “It’s late this year.”
As strange as it might be to say, I’m looking forward to finally entering the season of Lent. I am sorely in need of an extended period of penance. Having said that, I fear that I am once again setting myself up for disappointment. My desire for conversion, repentance, and renewal does not guarantee a spiritual experience and response on my part. Although I might want to be moved, that does not mean that I will be moved. Unfortunately, recent Sunday homilies on kindness and affirmation, going the extra mile, and Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy just haven’t met my spiritual needs.
Where does the desire to be contrite end and true contrition begin? I pray that contrition is more than, or at least not dependent upon, emotional sorrow, for my emotions have failed me. Instead, let it be an act of the will. Let true contrition be indicated not be feelings, but by actions to atone for and separate oneself from sin.
By that measure, the success of my Lent will be entirely up to me (although a little spiritual consolation would surely help).