Thursday, March 02, 2006


One of my heroes of faith, St. Benedict, says that "central to Lent is the idea of SORROW, or "COMPUNCTION" (literally meaning to prick)." What he was getting at was that Lent is a season when we ought to experience a "pricking of conscious". Out of the compunction comes a greater understanding of ourselves, our reliance upon God and a "suffering alongside" the poor.

St Gregory said it like this, "Properly speaking,there are two kinds of compunction: the soul that thirsts for God is first sorry in his heart from fear, and then from love."

And then I also think of a more contemporary kindred spirit- Thomas Merton: "Compunction is a sorrow which pierces, which liberates, which gives hope, and therefore Joy."

So is the season neccessary in the life of a Christian? Of course not. Is it possible that many go through the motions and see it as an empty ritual that has little value on one's life? I'm sure many see it that way.

But isn't it possible that by making a sacrifice during this season, by allowing ourselves to observe a fast, to take on a new discipline, or to take time out and serve the poor- we might identify with those who actually live day to day without, and have a deeper appreciation for God's call in our own lives? That's MY hope for myself and others.

"Merciful God, you called us forth from the dust of the earth; you claimed us for Christ in the waters of baptism. Look upon us as we enter these Forty Days bearing the mark of ashes, and bless our journey through the desert of Lent to the font of rebirth. May our fasting be hunger for justice; our alms, a making of peace; our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts. All that we do and pray is in the name of Jesus. For in his cross you proclaim your love for ever and ever." - CATHOLIC HOUSEHOLD BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS

(for more on St. Benedict, check out my 4 year old's meandering tale)


Wayne Bowerman said...

Very nice. I actually got to spend a few days back in May at St.Gregory's Abbey What was really cool there is that they are an Episcopal fellowship so we were able to take communion with them

Mike said...

I think Lent is definitely a season that could be attractive to people outside of Christianity whereby we admit -- we do not have it all together. Sadly, the act of confession is devoid from most churches these days. "Too depressing," we say.

That's why I think Merton's spin on compunction is so interesting: the prick gives hope, and therefore JOY. Many in the church do not understand how hope and joy can come through being pricked by reality. I'm reading Shane Clairborne's The Irresistible Revolution for Lent where he says the literal, radical following of the Way of Jesus is so attractive, who wouldn't follow it.

I see that on the fringes, but not so much in the core of Body. Makes you strong is the veil of false reality?

St.Phransus said...

wonderful thoughts mike. thanks.