Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thoughts toward a Lenten discipline

“The spiritual director should not reduce his attention to the internal life because of external occupations, nor should he relinquish his care for external matters because of his anxiety for the internal life. Otherwise, he will either ruin his meditation because he is occupied by external concerns or else he will not give his neighbors what he owes to them because he has devoted himself to the inner life only.” St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule II:7

Gregory was writing for clergy, and expected them to be more complete in spiritual balance than the laity. That is, he left more room for lay people to specialize in service to God, usually in the "active" life of family and neighborly goodness, while expecting clergy to be both "contemplative" for teaching insight and "active" as role models.

The Ash Wednesday liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer 1979 has the leader call the people to disciplines both active and contemplative:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the
observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and
meditating on God's holy Word.

This is worth thinking about before Lent. Am I fussing around with to much busy work, and needing to be still for prayer and study? Or is it time to get down to action and apply the things I've been reading and praying about, especially in terms of serving others' needs?

Lent is a great opportunity to rediscover the purpose and priorities God has for our lives, and to contend for them against the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil.

2 comments:

The Underground Pewster said...

Amen!

COHara said...

A good Lenten question for clergy and those in ministry could be: How am I choosing to nurture my body and my spirit this week?