06 March 2008

Lenten Reminder

"How can you believe, when you accept praise that comes from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?" Today's Gospel reading reminds us that at the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, we were warned not to perform acts of piety or charity so that others might see them and praise us. We are again reminded that the Lord sees our deeds -- and our motives -- even if others do not.
Sometimes this challenge comes to us as a temptation to do the "wrong thing" in a given situation; other times, however, it comes as a proclivity to leave undone something that, likely, will go unnoticed. Occasionally, it can be difficult to "do the right thing" when there may not be any immediate consequences if we do not. Perhaps we need a fork or a spoon and the flatware drawer is empty; we discover a full dishwasher, waiting for a good soul to empty it and put away the dishes. It can be tempting to remove the fork or spoon and close (and even re-lock!) the dishwasher, leaving it for some other good soul to empty. Emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, bringing in the recycling bins, refilling the copier with paper, etc.: none of these are extraordinary heroic tasks that require a supernatural amount of courage. They are very ordinary (and sometimes very boring) acts which test our fidelity and reinforce our character. The next time we feel tempted to leave a good act undone, let us call to mind the presence of the Lord who sees all our deeds and our motives.
"The soul that is absolutely abandoned to Divine Providence is unshaken in all kinds of events, she wishes God alone, she sees God alone, she attaches herself to God alone, in fine, she belongs to God alone."
St. Jane de Chantal

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