This week has got to be the most book-filled week. I think I finished four books this week, and not all of them were short. Wow. Talk about enthusiastic reading.
But that is what happens to me when I take away one thing that has become more or less an essential to me every night and day – my computer and the Internet (okay, so they’re two things). And although I have successfully avoided them last year (I don’t know how I did that, really), this year proved to be a bit more difficult. Not only in this particular fast, but also in the other fast. Let’s see how I fared this Lent:
- The first fast I told myself I’d be doing this year was the 40 days of prayer and fasting…which I failed miserably. Last year I did the seven days of prayer and fasting, which I was kind of successful in doing. This year was just…hard. Every Friday of the fast, I’d end up eating too much. I didn’t even mentally prepare for the fast. And come Holy Week, I had it in my mind to really fast…but then the Holy Week started with my birthday! Ack.
- The next, which was what I mentioned earlier, was the no computer and Internet fast. I almost made it…but not without me going online for an hour each on Thursday and Friday, and finally breaking the fast yesterday. How about that for conviction. :( I bet even taking away my laptop wouldn’t help; I probably would’ve just stolen some online time from my dad’s or from some laptop rental out there. :(
- And to top it all off, I didn’t get to confess this Lent. :(
So conviction and fasting wise, I had a pretty crummy Lent. I did manage to stay away from meat every Friday…but it doesn’t feel like it’s a worthy offering, you know?
I’m sorry Lord.
I know I shouldn’t be too hard on myself with that, but I just feel like I took away some of the gifts that I planned to give to someone special. Or that I broke a promise to someone and although he says it’s okay, I can’t help but feel guilty.
Or like Peter, who promised that he would never turn his back on Jesus, but denied Him not once, but three times, a few hours later. How’s that for conviction.
There’s one book I’ve always loved reading and going back to especially during Holy Week: Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Called Him the Savior. Here’s the particular part that always makes my eyes fill with tears:
Look in Mark, chapter 16. Read the first five verses about the women’s surprise when they find the stone moved to the side. Then feast on that beautiful phrase spoken by the angel, “He is not here, he is risen,” but don’t pause for too long. Go a bit further…the verse reads like this: … “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.”
…If I might paraphrase the words, “Don’t stay here, go tell the disciples,” a pause, then a smile, “and especially Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee.”
What a line. It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall — and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. “Be sure to tell Peter that he’s not left out. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop.”
pp 93-94, No Wonder They Called Him the Savior by Max Lucado
St. Peter is one of my favorite saints (together with St. Paul). His stubbornness (“No, you won’t wash my feet!”) and his short temper (he cut off an ear!) were definitely his flaws, but I can’t get over his intense devotion that made him say those words, “Even though all the others fall away, I will not.” (Mark 14:29) I’d like to believe that Jesus gave him a rueful smile before he foretold of his denial, to which Peter stubbornly insisted, “Though I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” (Mark 14:31)
I see myself in that moment, especially in the past Lent. As much as I’d like to be John, who stuck by Jesus’ side all through out, I think I was more of Peter, who promised such and such to Jesus, but didn’t follow through. And I knew Jesus knew that would happen to me this year, just like He knew Peter would deny him.
I’m not saying that what I failed to do in the last few weeks was excusable, that I shouldn’t do it again next time since I failed this year and still God loves me anyway. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t bother to fast or confess next time. That’s not the point. The thing is, even in my lack of faith, in my lack of willpower, God still grants me the grace and forgives me. Jesus knows that this would happen, and yet He forgives me. And although I know God appreciates that I promise to try harder next time, He’s asking me to accept the grace He is offering. Because He wants me — as in the WHOLE me — more than He wants any of my sacrifices, just as how He wanted Peter more than His promise of sticking by Him. :)
It sounds a bit absurd in some ways, I know, but what’s faith if you’re certain about everything?
As we start on this Easter season today, I leave you with a quote I got from one of the books I finished reading this weekend:
Easter cannot exist for you and for me without a deep willingness to embrace the mystery of love at its most fundamental: he who was dead now lives; I who was lost am found. I don’t ever pretend to understand that. Even that willingness is a gift…His death paid for my sin; his Resurrection opened the door for me to new life.
– p. 264, May Crowning, Mass and Merton: 50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic by Liz Kelly
Happy Easter, everyone. :)