So Lent is basically here. Either there was an extremely short period of Ordinary Time after Christmas, or there is truth to what older folks say about time passing more rapidly the older one becomes. Needless to say, I'm a bit unprepared for it to arrive tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, though I have been thinking about its arrival for a little while now. My usual approach to this time is rather minimalistic and unadventurous: giving up something that I do enjoy, but never really adding some work of mercy or spiritual endeavor to my everyday life.
Such an approach has "worked" for me so far, but my growth this year has left me feeling a bit convicted in regards to my lack of fervor. I have come to the realization and understanding of some certain things God seems to think I am ready to do, but I am stalled at the gate, afraid to move forward, yet knowing deep in my heart exactly what it is I am refusing to do. I experienced that awesome and horrific feeling of not being able to claim ignorance as an excuse anymore. I know what we are called to do in general as Catholics; I know (mostly) what it is I am personally called to do; and I am terribly, terribly aware that I know I know, and no longer have room for excuses.
I also have a tendency to start things really gung-ho, and then peter out before I make any headway. A big part of the reason for this is my ability to grossly over-estimate my ability and passion, which results in my biting off more than I can reasonably chew. At the same time, though, I know I can finish whatever I reasonably start, if I really put my mind to it. The big problem, however, is not wanting to put in the energy and time that it would take to finish what I started - I know this, so I usually don't start things. I can't claim failure if I never even started, right? And honestly, I hate failing - failing does not fit in at all with the perception I have of myself: strong, capable, self-sufficient, under control, I-can-take-on-the-world-and-no-thanks-I-don't-need-or-want-any-help-doing-so.
That being said, I'm going to do my best to not dig myself in too deep too quickly, and to make certain and immovable priorities. Most of the actual details are still fuzzy, but they will be worked out with time. Firstly, really desire to aspire to be a saint. Under this would fall such things like sitting and praying more; visiting the adoration chapel; going to confession more than once in a blue moon; making the effort to go to Mass more than just on Sunday; reading meditatively the Scriptures; learning the Divine Office. Yes, all that does sound like quite a bit, especially when considering that my life is no longer as full with unused time. But even if I were to pick one thing to do this day, and work on another another day, at least it would be something. Or I could try them, and settle on one that is best for me right now, and then focus on that. We shall have to see.
Secondly, take better care of myself physically. This will be a really tough one for me. I am a lazy procrastinator much of the time, so getting up the first time the alarm goes off would be a wonderful penance. Actually posting when I have time, rather than wasting it with other online junk would be another. Even more than that, though, I need to become more in tune with what my body is trying to tell me. I trained myself to basically ignore my body when it was tired, or hungry, or hurting, that I might not be a slave to my passions. It was a good plan, and worked out rather well, but I am beginning to realize that maybe it wasn't the most healthy way of approaching the issue. Yes, I can quite proudly and rightly claim that I am not addicted to much of anything, and thus am able to function much better than if I wasn't, but I now need to learn that I don't have to drive myself into the ground before I finally do something about whatever the issue is. It is okay to eat when one is hungry, and maybe not so good to ignore the hunger pains until they go away; sleeping when one is tired may actually be better than forcing oneself to stay awake sometimes; pain is not always something that needs to be worked through, and taking a break is really not wussy at all, but may actually be the smart thing to do. Thus, I shall listen to my appetites more, though not to excess, for there is always a time and a place for everything, as well as times and places where some things just shouldn't be.
Lastly, the cutting out of something licit. This year I think it will be booze, of all sorts. Now, I don't drink it all the time, what with it being rather expensive and all, but when we get together with friends, I usually will have one or two, and I do enjoy it then. I guess you could say I am a social drinker. And I like it that way. However small it may seem, this is actually one of the more significant kinds of sacrifices. It is easier to give up things that everyone else seems to give up, like sweets, because no one else has them either; but to give up something which no one gives up seems more difficult, because one is constantly reminded of what he may not have. Yes, so I guess I just tooted my own horn a little bit there, but it is similar to an argument I heard made in favor of allowing the thing sacrificed back into one's life on Sundays and solemnities: doing so increases one's desire for the object, thus making it more of a sacrifice for the rest of the week. Also, it builds a bit more appreciation for the object when it is in one's possession.
Well, that was quite a long spiel, and I'm a bit sorry for it, but not all that much. The art of being concise still eludes me, and I haven't written anything in such a long time, and the idea seems to have gotten a bit away from me. :)