Now that Lent is nearly over, I have decided that I would post the top 13 things I learned over the past 40 days. So, I give you:
13 Things I Learned in Lent 2006 (through writing Lenten meditations):
- Writing a blog entry every day is hard work, especially when it is a meditation upon the Mass readings for the day.
- It is even more difficult to write something that can be easily listened to. (It’s easier to read and understand than to listen and understand. Therefore, the writing style for speeches and sermons has to be vastly different than the style of an essay.)
- Priests who have to come up with even marginally good homilies every day of the week are truly gifted and blessed and deserve our thanks. (It’s not as easy as it looks to come up with something interesting every day!)
- The best homilies, like the best writings of any type, are less like dry teachings and more like personal narratives that give indirect insight into those teachings. (Hence the reason that Jesus taught in parables and not commandments.)
- We are extremely blessed in having a Pope that is extremely learned, yet can speak in simple, direct words.
- Magnificat magazine is also a great blessing, in that they pull together meditations from all sorts of writers and thinkers throughout the Church’s history.
- I do not yet know enough – about Church teachings and history, as well as about good speech writing – to be able to write good homilies (yet).
- I also do not yet possess the proper state of humility to be a good homilist. I have struggled with pride all throughout Lent, wondering if these meditations are being read by others and what they think of them. This is not the proper attitude to have. I know the proper attitude is supposed to be "were others helped," not, "what did they think of me and my writings." (Please pray for God to grant me that wisdom and strength to do so, if He is calling me to eventually be a deacon.)
- Humility is absolutely essential, not just to the Christian life, but to Christian teaching and preaching as well. It helps us stop worrying whether we are good enough (or if others are good enough to our own eyes), and allows us to focus more on promoting the dignity of others.
- There is hope for me, because children (especially babies) are great instruments of God for teaching one humility – especially when they act up at Mass.
- Attending Mass (or even reading the Mass readings) every day really gives you a better sense of continuity and theme about the teachings of the Scriptures and the Church than just going every Sunday.
- Psalm 51 is really popular during Lent, especially the part about how God wants obedience more than He wants sacrifices.
- We have a great, although vastly under-utilized, gift in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and I need to received the graces from Confession much more often than I have recently.
There are other lessons I re-learned (e.g., I am lazy around the house and at work; as Christians, we shouldn’t place our trust in any politicians to act in fully Christian ways, because they will eventually fail us – they’re human!), as well as new lessons (e.g., a lot of the traffic problem is in my handling of the situation, so I am now praying the rosary every time I start getting frustrated in my car), but in order to keep this list to 13 items, I had to limit it to lessons learned from the meditation writings.
Writing meditations every day this Lent has truly been much more of a sacrifice than I initially thought it would be. I think next year, I’ll go back to just giving up caffeine or chocolate. 🙂