The beginning of Great Lent and my own fallen state

Sent on behalf of Susan Eapen

Dear friends,

I always look forward to the Great Lent because within me there is a child
looking for the felt presence of God. I like pictures of the Guardian Angel
and the Holy Family. I want to feel loved and cherished and guarded by the
Ultimate and feel His ever present care. I want to be special to Him even
while realizing that each one of us is special to Him.

It is all very well to say that the Triune God dwells in you. We know that
it is correct in the same way as we know that an apple falls to the ground
due to gravity; but that knowledge does not overcome our busy involvement
with everyday life and in this business, we often forget that we are the
temples of God. Gradually, as in the case of Jerusalem Temple and as so very
often seen in our own Church, we compromise and justify and rationalize and
allow buyers and sellers and commerce within its Holy walls and in the
process, we evict the spiritually needy/ outsider who might have been
looking at us for a sign of the indwelling of God. The Lent is the time when
Jesus comes in and overturns the tables and casts out the traders.

Whenever I join in social chit-chat, I find that often the conversation
moves to someone absent. Somebody comes up with an unkind remark about the
absent person and even when I feel uncomfortable about it, or consider it
unjust, I find myself either openly condoning the gossip monger or
maintaining a cowardly silence. But during Lent, the daily prayers from the
prayer book which is repeated morning, noon, evening and night makes me wake
up to my responsibility before God. I remember the prayer on Monday Morning-
Brother loving brother is the fasting chosen by me. Tuesday Night we pray
`The fast / Lent which adorns our spirit with spiritual wings is this: Be
wise, pure, and loving (paripaakatha, nirmalatha, sneham). Restrain your
mouth from injustice and your heart from deceit. Love your brothers and
respect your teachers.' I realize that without this, my observance does not
reach the Holy God and my offerings are like those of Cain. They are impure
and like grass which is burnt up by the fire of his Holiness even before it
reaches Him, leaving nothing.

Each prayer is a wake up call. And fifty days of prayer coupled with
abstinence, will surely build me up in self control and spiritual strength.

I am reminded through these prayers that all this work and the strength that
I gain would stand me in good stead and may even save my life. It would help
me become more pleasing to God and man as I would become a better and more
honest person. It would cast out much of my negative characteristics and
evil which now dominate my inner space. At least it makes me ashamed of
myself when I join gossip even passively. I become aware of my poverty and
ashamed of my apparel soiled by sin and deceit and long for the garment of
light that God had initially adorned man with. It sounds so magnificent and
perhaps it would make the rather plain and old susan beautiful and lovable.

I become impatient with my old mother's seemingly unreasonable demands and
try to avoid her constant complaining. I forget her age, loneliness and
illness and am wrapped up in my problems. I fear whether I would ever have
the strength for the inner unseen warfare and learn to be truly loving and
charitable. No gifts to poor homes can cover up for the unkindness to those
closest to you- helpers,housemaids, children, parents, friends, neighbours.

I am greedy and attracted by the display of diamonds and silks and the smell
of wonderful confectionery even as I realize that all these are bad for
me-what with Bunti Chors and Diabetes and the need of others for sustenance
before me.

I am often tempted to give the prayers and church attendance a miss. But
once there, I feel a great sense of peace and realize that I would have
passed by the blessings of Lent through my casual approach.

Jesus said:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

God grant us poverty of spirit and a pure heart.

Susan Eapen