Lent has a way of showing me that I have a long way to go. Sometimes I vascillate between being encouraged by the progress I have made spiritually and feeling discouraged that I have a difficult time sticking to my Lenten discipline.
It shouldn't be surprising that it is difficult, as we are Christians living in a world which opposes us daily. We are in the world yet living in ways that are contrary to what the world says should make us happy.
This world tries to pull us away at every turn. It is like taking one step forward and two steps back.
We live in a world which tells us the end justifies the means, even when the means is destroying human life. It tells us that stem cell research using embryos slated for destruction is a good moral thing to do. Never mind the fact that they should have never been unnaturally created and left in a state of suspension in the first place. Now that we have immorally created them, the world would have us believe that the best possible use for this situation is to do some good with them, thus giving the illusion of redemption. The world confuses the message and tells us that a life created and destroyed for a cure is justified.
The world tries to tell us that we can solve our problems with abortion. That women have a right which supercedes the right of their unborn child. The world confuses the message and tells us it is for the best.
We live in a world that tells us a love story about a vampire and a human is a good thing because the story supposedly has a few moral messages. That it is ok to follow your heart even when it takes you somewhere that you should never be. The world wants us to believe that.
The world tells us that it is ok to have a family with two moms or two dads. That marriage can be defined more broadly than just a man and a woman. The world wants us to believe that there is nothing wrong with this scenario.
This world would love for us to believe that an intrinsic evil can be redeemed if there is some good in it.
I tell my children that sin dipped in chocolate is still sin. It doesn't change it one bit, just makes it easier to swallow.
This is where I find myself in this time of Lent. There really is no middle ground to stand on. Christ says that "whoever is not for Him, is against Him." He tells us that this present world is "passing away." We cannot put our trust into something that is not stable.
The truth is that this world cannot redeem yet Christ can.
He can take tremendous suffering and even death on a Cross and turn it into our salvation.
That is why Catholics have a Crucifix in every church, visible to all. We can't lose sight of the message that it is through Christ and His sacrifice that we can live. The message of the Gospel is directly opposite of the message of the modern world.
In this time of Lent, we can be reminded that our sufferings, even the most difficult, can have meaning if we look to Christ and His example.
We have an advantage that Christ's original disciples didn't. We know that Easter is coming. As Father Corapi would say, we know how the story ends. The best thing about it is, that the ending of that story isn't an ending but another beginning!
So, even as I am reminded daily that I fail many times, I am encouraged to once again pick up my cross, journey toward Easter and the promise of new life, both here on earth and one day in Heaven.