For the last two years we’ve heard and read many words about mercy and accompaniment, about “who am I to judge”, faithfulness is an “ideal” unachievable by many, and that personal conscience is the final arbiter of what is right and true and of what it means to follow God. The issue is that they fly in the face of a holistic understanding of our faith. An understanding that allows us to fully participate in our liturgical seasons.
What do I mean? Simply look at Lent or even today’s (Feb 27th, 2017) readings and you won’t see a casual, idealistic, and feel good attitude or declaration. For instance:
- Sirach 17:20-24 “To the penitent God provides a way back…Return to him and give up sin…”
- Psalm 32:1-2,5,6,7 “…Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not….”
- Mark 10:17-27 “No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery;….Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The 1988 Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feast says this about Lent.
The annual Lenten season is the fitting time to climb the Holy mountain…[and] the faithful ever more attentive to the word of God and prayer, [should] prepare themselves by penance for the renewal of their baptismal promises. (p.6)
And again it says,
The Lenten season should retain something of its penitential character….The role of the Church in penitential practices is not to be neglected and encouragement is to be given to pray for sinners. (p.14)
How is it even possible to participate in the healing and purpose of Lent if we don’t recognize and acknowledge sin and encourage many to treat God’s truth as an ideal that can’t be achieved?