By: Anthony Beltrame
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"... these words famously begin Charles Dickens' epic novel but they might also sum up our spiritual life at this point in Lent.
Maybe we have held fast to our resolutions and begun to see the fruit they bear, but it may also be that fasting has made us a bit grumpy or that pride has reared its head as we compare our disciplinary feats to others. Whatever the case may be, sometimes we can be the greatest saints and the greatest sinners all in one day. And if our lives aren't quite that dramatic we can at least occasionally find ourselves at a cross road, wondering which way to proceed, the way of perseverance or do we give up the journey. The choice should be simple and yet how often do we not choose the better path. As we near the beginning of Holy Week, I'd like to take a brief look at these two paths and offer some words of encouragement for the narrow way.
I'd like to put it out there, sin is boring. Have you ever noticed that it's really common place, that everyone does it, and so it has no power to excite us or push us beyond ourselves? Sin makes us complacent and unremarkable. Holiness on the other hand is truly compelling, it can stir us to do incredible things and when we see it in another person we want nothing more than to be around them. Holiness makes us unique and unrepeatable, there is nothing boring about a person who follows God's will perfectly and allows the Holy Spirit to work in their life. Now the world tells us that just the opposite is true. It tells us that we are exciting and fun precisely to the degree that we follow our own will and indulge in our own pleasures regardless of how morally questionable they are. And yet no matter how many times we are told this, we know just the opposite to be true. We know that self-gratification never satisfies us for long and when we sin we end up feeling emptier than before.
History tends to eventually forget the sinners, because after a while they all look and sound the same. Saints on the other hand have something that no one else can offer, they are the ones who enrich the world by their openness to God's will. Now don't get me wrong, becoming a Saint isn't an easy thing; in fact, in today's world it might be more difficult than ever. But God does not call us to something that is impossible. He supplies all the Grace necessary to live a Saintly life. All that is required of us, is an openness and willingness to allow him to work in us. We don't need to be remarkably talented or charismatic, and in fact God most often uses our weaknesses for his glory. As we near the end of Lent, let's keep these two paths in mind, and for the love of God and his people, let's try to choose the better way.