Tag Archives: Lent

“WHAT DO YOU SEE IN TODAY’S CHURCH?” – by a Modern-day Patrick.

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Came across this in my browsing. A collection of Excellent thoughts by a Modern-day Patrick, and should help us in our Lenten season.

Could not find a ‘Re-blog’ button in his. Do peruse:

https://patrickrealstories.wordpress.com/2018/01/21/what-do-you-see-in-todays-church/

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Ash Wednesday, 2016

With Ash Wednesday, for Christians, Today begins Lent.

But Does it? And Should it?!

The Victorious Cross

Image from: salvationist.ca

Should Lent have a Beginning and an End?

The word Lent comes from ‘A Lento,’ which means A Slowing Down. Slowing Down Life’s pace, to observe and reflect how life is going, what changes would make it better, etc. Penances are supposed to help in this.

But Should We do this wonderful thing of Keeping a Check on Life just 40 days of the year, and leave 325 for a Mad Rush?!

For a Serious Christian, for the Mature Christian, Each Day should be Lent; Each Day should be a Good Friday, and Each an Easter! Because Christ Dies in Humanity Every Day, and Christ Shows Himself Victorious Every Day Too! As I have tried to show in the Graphic, which for me means the Victorious Cross!

Wish You All a Meaningful Lent, and Regards.

Yesudas.

Repentance

What Is Repentance? The dictionary gives its meaning as ‘Feeling Sorrow for one’s Actions,’ etc. But Just to feel Sorrow or Being Sorry is Not Enough. A Positive and Concerted Effort has to be made to bring about Changes in that regard. That Alone would be True Repentance.

But Why Repentance and What Repentance? Are We Such Sinners?! 

The Problem is that We have been brought up to Think and to Believe, in most cases, that Sexual misdemeanour’s are the First Sins. We might then think of Murder and Killings, and think that since We do Not do any of these, and Just a little may be of Stealing and Lying, We are Not really sinning! 🙂

This is not a new situation. We find the Question in the Book of Jeremiah: “What IS our Sin?” had asked the People. (16:10).

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But First, WHAT IS SIN?

SIN IS CONSCIOUSLY AND WILFULLY HURTING ANOTHER.

For More on this subject, namely, What is Sin, Please click here (post under preparation).

That said,

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO REPENT?! WHAT IS OUR SIN?

Anybody and Everybody who wants to Grow in Spiritual Life has to learn to Remove ALL that would be Hurting one’s Neighbour, and as such, Dis-Pleasing to the Lord. I could give You a Whole list of suggestions in this regard. For now, let us Concentrate on One point: Our Eternal APATHY. Because Apathy is a Major, and Very Grievous Sin.

Jesus had Not been THIRSTY on the Cross Alone.

I am Thirsty s

Jesus, Through the Ages, has been Hungry, and Thirsty, and Homeless.

Poverty

We Forget that These Defeated Eyes belong to Christ Jesus Himself Who still walks our streets Today. 

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And We get Oh-So-Tired of seeing such pictures, news, views and statements, that We enter into Apathy!

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Jesus gave the Parable of the Good Samaritan, NOT to tell us Who Actually is Our Neighbour, but to Show — TO WHOM ALL WE HAVE TO BE THE NEIGHBOUR. (Luke 10:25-37).

  • The Scribe’s question had actually been: Whom (All) am I supposed to love? Take care of? Treat as my Neighbour, and Mine? [Verse 29].
  • Jesus ends up by asking: Who Proved to be the Real Neighbour to the Injured Man?! [Verse 36].

The Better, and the REAL name of the parable should be: The Bad Priest and Levite! 

One Really has to Appreciate the Artist of this picture, who has brought out Superbly, through the Eyes, the Face and Body language of the ‘priest’ in the foreground, the Superior and Supercilious mind-set of the Upper and Middle Classes!

The Bad Priest and Levite!

Do Not his Eyes say: “Do You Seriously and Truly Expect me to Stop-by and Help You?” Image courtesy: dailyedify.com

The Very Same thing happens in Our lives too many times. Apathy has become So Well Hidden these days, that it is Quite Difficult to Recognize it. For Example:

  • When I wrote something on Poverty and added the picture of some Bread in that, Somebody asked for the Recipe of that Bread in the comments section!
  • Whatever piece of News We hear, whether it be Rape, Gang Rape, Murder of Children, Crass Injustice, Billions of Tax payer money Wasted, …We Quickly Turn Our Minds to Other things.
  • You Spend Endless Hours in preparing an Important Post. People Simply Jump over it. And give a ‘Like’ to a Two-penny-worth post which You had put Just to Smile!
  • People Join a ‘Religious Congregation;’ and Spend their Time in going around the World on Tours, and Posting pictures of their Extended ‘Picnics.’
  • When I was Young, I used to Yearn for Forums where I could Raise my voice over many issues. Today We have that, Easily, in Facebook, the Twitter, etc. But People use these Platforms for Absolutely Inane, Frivolous, Crass and Childish matters. They do not even (Dare to) give Likes, or Give a Share to the Thoughts.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan, or in my words – The Bad Priest and Levite, had been a Lesson Not on Who my Neighbour is, but, Am I being a Good Neighbour?

WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE VERY GOOD NEIGHBOURS TO EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL ON EARTH.

IF WE FAIL IN THIS, THAT IS APATHY, AND WE SIN.

APATHY IS OUR SIN. WE NEED TO REPENT ON THIS.

Repentance would mean Becoming Concerned, Caring Individuals. This does NOT mean putting some money in the Alms box. It means becoming Involved in making the World a Better Place for the Have-Nots. On a 24×7, Year-Long basis. Tough? Christ did not say it would be Easy. But it is Possible. And NEEDS to be done, If We want Peace of Mind, and If We want to Celebrate Lent in a Meaningful manner.

What to give up for Lent?

Having seen What Lent is, I give You some Very Sweet Answers to Questions like ‘What to give up for lent,’ etc. At the age of 67, with More than 40 of them spent in Serious Reflection, You would find my Answers Very Different, and See that They Make Sense!

First of all, Lent is Not about giving up a few Things.

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From the Time of our Lord Himself, we know that the Pharisees had ‘Observed the Sabbath’ “Meticulously.” [You will note that I have put the word Meticulously in double inverted commas. That should tell You something! These Pharisees had kept the Sabbath according to ‘their’ rules and standards, which Jesus saw through, had not found them up to the mark, and for which He berated them. But that is another story.]

To continue, besides this regular observation of the Sabbath, the Pharisees had Fasted Much, had given 10% of their Earnings to the Temple, (Calculate that! 10% is a Goodly amount!), and spent much time in studying the Scripture, (again, after their ‘own’ way, of course).

Let us Stay with the Pharisees. In spite of these their way of life, We Know that our Lord was Not Impressed with them. He had chastised them time and again. Matthew allots practically the whole of his 23rd chapter in Condemnation of the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees.

So Holiness or Advancement in Spirituality is Not about Giving up things, Nor Taking up things like Fasts and such!

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A very famous retreat centre in India calls for its participants to give up smoking and drinking as practically the steps to be followed in that place. But there was Not Enough of an Emphasis on A ‘Change of Heart’ there. And the results are Not all that they could have been.

Then We have the Famous examples of Giving up Chocolates.

External changes like these can bring about, at most, External changes in their turn, like a little Better health due to giving up smoking, or a Slimmer body due to lesser Carbs.

It is like removing a Glob of dirt from the Wind shield, or Filling up the Tyres, both of which are Useful, by the way, – While the Engine is Smoking! Most probably You would be left standing on the spot in spite of the Wind shield having become clearer, and the Tyres having had their fill.

We have to Address the Root of Problems, and Take Care of Basics first. Giving up a few things for Lent is Not of Much Use!

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Only Surface level Preachings on Lent are being presented. Before We go further, We have to see How Repugnant even this sort of Lent is taken to be, at least in some circles.

The goodly people of the South Americas, Pope Francis’ own soil, So dread Lent, that they ‘Top themselves Up Full Well’ before beginning this Religious exercise. As under: A mere glimpse of the ill-famed ‘Carnivals.’

South American Carnivals

This is a good example of what happens when Attention is Diverted to what to give up for Lent, etc. This sort of mentality seems to create a Fear, as the Carnival evinces. For all that, the Carnival is more than a bit of Debauchery. And it Astonishes me that the so called Leaders of the church have nothing to say about it. As You know, the picture I have given is one of the more Modest ones! Well.

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Here are things I say You Need NOT give Up!

Let me put it in another way: Do Not Over Fast. You are Not in a Competition of Fasting. And Do not do it because ‘Jones’ is doing it.

In this regard, an Anecdote from the life of St. Don Bosco. One night the devil came and took the good Priest on a round of their institution. The devil wanted to show him Where-all he was succeeding in gaining his victories. One of the places they visited was the Dining hall. The Saint was astonished, and asked the devil how People could be sinning there. The devil simply said that he invited people either to eat too much or too little. In Both cases they ended up Not being able to do what they were supposed to be doing!

Making my list a short one: You Need Not Give Up Sex! As I have shown earlier, The Real purpose of Lent is to become ‘Other Centric,’ — Concerned, Caring and Loving Human Beings. …You cannot take these my words as License for All-out Orgies of the Flesh. Always remember that All Efforts at Self Control go in Your favour and Your Advancement.

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FOR LENT, DO GIVE UP:

APATHY, WASTE, The UNNECESSARY, and LETHARGY.

The One, and thus the Most Important commandment being that We Love, the Greatest Sin is its Opposite: Apathy! Apathy is Mankind’s Greatest Sin! The Human Race – and that Includes our Religious Leaders, – Simply does not Care!

I give You below a piece of ‘Rangoli,’ as it is known in North India, and ‘Kolam’ in the South. Let us call it an Artwork made on the ground using coloured powders.

Kolam/Rangoli

Below is the House of the Young Girl who made that for us. It is the Thatched house.

Gomati's house a

But Scant months ago, This is what it had looked like, as in the photograph below.  The family, consisting of Five members, had been living in this for more than Six months before it got repaired.

Gomati's house b

And Below is How Christians of a certain parish (Not that they were too different from Others) celebrated Christmas.

N'coil Christmas

Many say: Why  do You care if They want to Spend. But I Know that the Watchman in the church shown here is paid a measly rs. 3,000 a month. On the Other hand, Rs. 2,50,000 might have been spent on electrical lights, flowers, the sound system and crackers, in One night, to ‘celebrate’ the Birth of One who chose to be born on Hay.

IF the Watchman, and Other Staff had been paid Equitable and Living Wages, (they are ‘Church’ staff, after all!), and IF this little girl’s house, and those like hers, had been repaired by these ‘Holy’ Christians, would I not have kept my mouth shut? As it is, Observing these sorts of In-Equalities and Opposites, I have a Pain in my Stomach. And shall We say God Alone Knows What HE is Thinking?

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And So, for Lent, Do let us give up

APATHY, WASTE, The UNNECESSARY, and LETHARGY.

More on – What is Lent

We have seen in a previous article that Lent is a ‘Slowing Down of Life,’ where and when We Observe, (Think, Reflect!) on Just How Our Life is going, And Take Steps to bring about Changes, going to the Extent of ‘U’ turns, if necessary.

The point is that generally Lent is associated with a (Liturgical) Season. This post will show that the Observance of Lent, Ideally, Should Not be Limited to a ‘Season.’

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We know that Jesus said: “When you Fast, Do Not put on a Sad face as the Hypocrites do. They Neglect their Appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting.” (Matthew 6:16, TEV).

Fasting is Long associated with Lent.

Yet, Though the Jews had Seasons and Festivals, Jesus had Not been referring to a Pious or Religious Activity of a Particular Season. In that case, Everybody would have known that Everybody was Fasting! …Thus Jesus was remarking on an Activity Outside of Regular ‘Seasons.’

It follows that Pious Jews Fasted Out of Season too! Can We be Far Behind?

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The Bible shows that Fasting and Penances had been undertaken much indeed during those times. David had done that — 2 Samuel 12:16-17; as had People in general, as seen in  Nehemiah 9:1. We have references to Fasting in Psalms 35:13, 69:10, 109:24, etc.

In Daniel “Mourning for three weeks, Not Eating any Rich Food or Any Meat, Nor Drinking Wine, …and Not Even Combing his Hair (Wow!),” We have very good examples of Abstinences.

When the prophet Jonah finally preached in Nineveh, that Mega City, steeped in sin and debauchery it would seem, its King not only put on Sack Cloth and Sat on Ashes, but even Ordered that All his subjects Fast and do Penance as aids to a Change of life. (Jonah 3:6-9). [Note: The king passing these orders even on Infants and Animals should be taken as Hyperbole; or even as sacred Humour, in spite of the serious circumstances.]

King of Nineveh in Sack cloth and Ashes

Image courtesty: biblevisuals.org

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We have seen that Lent is a Time of Putting Our Way of Life Right, aided by Fasting and Penances. As such, it is Wonderful.

  • It is the Difference between Riding with Low Air in Your Cycle Tyres, and Riding it after getting the Tyres Filled.
  • It is an Engine that had Long been in need of Servicing, and its Performance after the Overhaul.
  • It is the Body that had gone Flabby due to Lack of Exercise and the difference We feel after having Exercised.

Before and after exercise

Photo courtesy: musclebomb.com

As such, Lent is a Time of Re-Freshening Ourselves, Refreshing Ourselves, Getting New Life and Energy. It is sad that some people look upon Lent as some kind of Bitter pill, to be Swallowed somehow; As something One has to Go through. My post, ‘What to give up for Lent,’ (As yet under preparation), speaks more on this.

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Let us Remember that Lent is Not Merely Fasting or Giving Up things. The Whole Purpose of Lent is to Bring about Necessary Changes in One’s Life. And God has been Very Particular about the Right Way of Observing our Seasons of Fasting!

For some thoughts on The Right Way of Observing Lent, please click here.

What is Lent?

Christians are in the Season of Lent. But What is Lent?! In other words, ‘What is the Meaning of Lent?’ …Let us see it from Various angles.

The Meaning of Lent as a Word

In Latin, We have it as ‘Lentus,’ meaning Slow. In Music, ‘A-Lento’ is a Slow Tempo. As such, Altogether, Lent means A Slowing Down! It is like one of Our Religious Exercises, namely, ‘Retreats.’ In Retreats, We Fall Back, as it were, to observe the Way Our Life is going, from a ‘Distance.’

When We take Time to Think, We would see that:

  • Our Life has become A Rush, To Earn a Living.
  • So much so, that We are Not Spending Enough Time in examining if We are Spending the Money Right!

Lent is Mentally Slowing Down Our life in order to Observe:

  • Whether Our Value Systems are Right,
  • Whether We are Seeking and Working-for the Right things,
  • And Above All Whether We are Achieving What We have Wanted!

[Just observing such things without taking Corrective steps would be a Meaningless thing, and a Waste of time, would it not?]

Most of the Time We seem to find that We have failed in what We had wanted; like the Happiness of Our Dear Ones, Happiness With Our Dear Ones, etc.

Lent gives Us a Grand Time to Correct Our Courses, as it were! We can put the same thing as Getting Our Life Back on Track.

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Lent, a Time to Repent

We will hear The Word ‘Repent’ used very much during this season of Lent. Actually, ‘Repent’ is practically the very first word that Jesus Uttered in His public ministry. He had said: “Repent, and Believe in the Good News.” (Mark 1:15). The TEV says: ‘Turn away from your sins,’ instead of Repent. Jesus had probably used the word ‘Metanoia.’ This means Such a Profound Change, that it call be called a ‘U’ turn.

Often We would find, particularly in Traffic, that U turns as Not allowed. But in the case of Life, God Not Only Allows them, but Desires them!

God Allows U turns

Graphic Courtesy: worldprayrblog.org

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Turning Back from Our Sins? Are We Such Sinners?!

These are Very Pertinent questions, and Need a Goodly answer. For that, I direct You to my post on Repentance, (in preparation).

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So finally, and In Reality, The Season of Lent is meant for Making the Necessary Changes in Our Life, so that Life becomes More Meaningful, More Satisfying, and Worthy of Being Children of God. …As to How to Make Our Lives Better, Please click here.

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PS: MUCH more can be said about Lent! For some more thoughts on the same, please click here.

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PPS: My Good Friend Rajiv has raised the point that people ‘Repent’ without ‘Reflection.’ Actually, that is Not Right. Am Adding some points on this.

We Human Beings have Two Faculties, namely, Our Intellect and Our Will. Simply Put, All Analysing is done by the Intellect, and All Decisions are taken by the Will. Reflection is done by the Intellect, and Repentance is the Activity of the Will.

No Decision can be taken without Reflection. Our ‘Reactions’ to Many Situations are the Result of a Long time of Deciding Just How to Respond to a Particular Input of Data. A Soldier Home on Leave can React Very Violently if Woken up. That is because that is How he has Trained himself.

If an Action takes place without going through this Intellect-Will process, that would mean that the Brain had Not been Involved. For example, our Reactions to Tickling. This is Purely Instinctive.

The Will can take a Decision Only after it has been presented Facts, (Or what passes for facts!), by the Intellect. The Will might even Decide to take No Action, Or a Contrary Action, on the matter presentedSo Repentance does not Automatically Follow Reflection.

It is True that many a time Many people Say ‘Sorry’ without meaning it. And Most of the time Many believe that this Saying Sorry is a Sign of Repentance. But We have to Remember that people can say Sorry without meaning it. And We all know that such things happen. It would be Our Mistake if We take Mere Lip Service for a Change of Heart and of Repentance.

The point is that God is Not going to take Drama, Mental Gymnastics or Fooling-Around for Repentance. We are on Serious Grounds here.

Repentance, if Desired, HAS to follow Reflection, (I Have used the words Observation and Think in the Article). And, If One wants to See Daylight in Life, One HAS to Repent. A whole Life time of Reflection, without Repentance, Will Not bring about a Good Night’s Sleep.