Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sicilian Vespers

I had a good Lent, which should have been the red flag. The annual Lenten malaise didn’t come. I kept my Lenten promises. I fasted. I made it to daily Mass. That’s not normally how Lent goes. That’s how the first week or two go, and then it falls apart, and I reflect on how Lent is teaching me about trying again, even in the face of inevitable failure on my part. But, no, this Lent was good.

So it all fell apart in Easter. Vices pulled twice as strong. I stopped going to daily Mass. I stepped away from practice or even thinking about it. I was in a dry spell in the midst of feasting. It reached its apex with missing Pentecost. There was no reason for it, and no despair on my part. It was just different, distant.

And then the seasons changed again. The fog lifted, and I looked to God again. Even when I sank into a deep depression, I made it to daily Mass. I prayed more. I stopped going through the motions and actually meant them. I went to confession, got myself cleaned up, and started battling those vices. And it didn’t feel like a challenge, as if I were rallying myself to come back. It just returned, without effort or explanation.

The spiritual journey isn’t a straight line. It takes turns. It slows down and speeds up. It hits bumps. So it’s important to remember that phases pass, seasons change. What feels momentously hard one week comes naturally the next. I am a body as well as a soul, subject to time and tides and climate.

I shouldn’t embrace the times of apathy or distance; I should fight them. But I shouldn’t let the fight lead to despair or indulgence. Sometimes waiting is best course of action. Obedience and patience can seem like passiveness or inaction, but they are real challenges. I think God appreciates when we obey in the face of apathy. It would be better to be motivated by genuine love and devotion, but some days, just showing up is enough. Better intentions can grow from there, and be harvested when the seasons change.

Just 24 more weeks of Ordinary Time.

[Title comes from what I was listening to while writing – classical music has been a Godsend the past two weeks.]

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