Thursday, March 19, 2009

When Lenten Penances Are Too Light

From Matthew Kelly's book, "Rediscovering Catholicism":
The forty days of Lent are an ideal period for renewal. Lent is the perfect span of time to form new life-giving habits and abandon old self-destructive habits. But most of us just give up candy and, when Easter arrives, we are no further advanced spiritually than we were at the beginning of Lent.
In the interest of full disclosure, my only formally avowed Lenten penance was to drive exactly the speed limit. For some people, that might be huge, but for me, I already never drove more than 5 mph over. Kudos to those who caught the faulty self-justification in my italicized words there. So anyway, my Lenten discipline brings me more peace on the road, but as I told some friends, I didn't feel that it was sufficiently "Lenty" enough when I resolved to do it.

I post this quote because it hit be right between the eyes when I read it. If I'd had more presence of mind I'm sure I would have told myself "aw snap, me!" but as I said I was stunned, and thus introspective at that moment. Ah, opportunity: missed.

My knee-jerk reflex when reading a passage like the Matthew Kelly above is to self-justify. Ex: Sure my Lenten discipline is meager but "I'm doing more spiritual reading this year" and "I'm planning on entering a theology undergraduate program" blah blah. But I do enough self-justifying...and it's endemic to the culture.

Anyway, I love this book of his but I've been listening to some of his talks online and I don't like them at all. It's really weird because the other day I just about came to blows (figuratively, internet-style) with somebody who was knocking this book. I took it as a personal affront. (The guy is clearly still wrong, by the way :^)

But I'm going to be honest, if I ever meet Mr. Kelly and he utters one of his buzz-phrases such as "best version of yourself" and "Spiritual North Star", I'd beg him to never, ever use those phrases ever again. I've become aware that I'm not the only one who finds his overuse of those phrases tiresome. For the love, Mr. Kelly, please: think of the children.