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March 23, 2006

Garments or Hearts?

We're a little more than half-way through Lent, and it would probably do some good to look back over the past few weeks and ask ourselves, has there been more rending of garments, more show, more self-esteem improvement in how heroic our sacrifices can be than there has been a change of heart? If so, it's time to change focus.

Our penances and mortifications, our additional attempts at prayer, our striving to make ourselves ready for Easter has allowed God to harrow the desolate earth of our hearts and make them ready for new seeds of faith. Now, as we continue those practices that have brought us to this point in Lent, it is good to focus our attention on what God wants from us beyond these temporary practices. In our practice of Lent, what is God saying about how we should live the rest of our lives? How has love grown in the time we have made our penitential practices? How have our lives been altered by this deeper focus on God? There's probably nothing dramatic, perhaps only a dawning realization of the need for service, or the need to change some aspect of our habits, or of the need for additional prayer or additional Christian practice.

As you fast, pray, and give alms, listen for the still small voice that does not make itself heard in the thunderstorm or the earthquake, but which shouts loud in the silence of the heart. Listen to the things God reveals to you during this time. He speaks loudly if we will push away the sheer brilliance of our Lenten performances only long enough to hear. He tells us this is a good start, but He wants more. In fact, He wants everything--but a step at a time.

So now is the acceptable day and the proper time. Look not so much at how well you have kept to your Lenten practice, but look to what God wishes to make of it. This is the beginning of a lifetime and God wants that lifetime to be productive, beautiful, and completely within Him. He is telling each one of us how that might be done. If we still ourselves for a moment and listen, perhaps we will hear and His grace will help us to fulfill His word to us.

Posted by Steven Riddle at March 23, 2006 9:31 AM

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How worthy of praise that you have taken us along with Elijah, from Mt. Carmel to Mt. Horeb, to listen to that small, still voice. Perhaps the cloud that rose out of the sea saturated Elijah with grace and led him to the Mountain of God to hear that still, small voice and the conception of an invisible and spiritual God. Wow! Thanks for this.

Posted by: psalm 41 at March 23, 2006 12:32 PM

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