Ash Wednesday 2020
(Feeding our soul’s)
We see this power, the force of the Red Dragon… in new and different ways. It exists in the form of materialistic ideologies that tell us it is absurd to think of God; it is absurd to observe God’s commandments: they are a leftover from a time past. Life is only worth living for its own sake. Take everything we can get in this brief moment of life. Consumerism, selfishness, and entertainment alone are worthwhile. —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Homily, August 15th, 2007; vatican.va
A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power… In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule. —POPE FRANCIS, Evangelii Gaudium, n. 56
There is an inbuilt fear of thinking about endings. Our own passing in particular, is almost impossible to contemplate. For in thinking about one’s death, we do so as an observer. Death is personal, it is experienced, and the process that leads up to death is also hard to think about. Yet each of us will experience this transition. For some it will be fast and easy, for others, perhaps the majority, it can be long and drawn out. When I receive the ashes on my head, the thought of the rapidity of life comes to the forefront.
To not feed the soul is to seek nourishment in ways that are self-destructive. Today we are not people that have technology, but a people wherein technology has us, by the neck. We no longer have control over it, since it is driven by the desire for ever greater profit and power. It does not matter that the young are being affected by our ‘advances’ that are not healthy. t relationships are missing.
Today, with the Coronavirus, the thought of the fragility of our lives, and even of our societies is being forced upon us. We all know that there are going to be severe challenges for most of us because of China’s being shut down in its ability to manufacture goods that are needed for our own continuing wellbeing.
We have ‘souls’, a reality being denied by many today. We have deep inner lives, a Spirit, which seeks connection with something greater. I do not believe that this desire is an illusion, nor is it based on the fear of death. It is rooted in reality.
To not feed the soul is to seek nourishment in ways that are self-destructive. Today we are not people that have technology, but a people wherein technology has us, by the neck. We no longer have control over it, since it is driven by the desire for ever greater profit and power. It does not matter that the young are being affected by our ‘advances’ that are not healthy.
Even in Monasteries, this is an issue that is being looked into. We live in a world moving at an ever-faster pace, and the fruits of this advance is not always good. If we are cut off from our soul and absorbed by what our culture tells us what we need, we will lose our sense of self, and become just one of the so-called ‘masses’. We lose our sense of being unique, and worthwhile. We are reduced to being put into statistical groups, and then stereotyped.
It is our faith, deeply lived that can help us to navigate this in ways that will keep us safe, grounded, and yes sane. Rooted in God, planted in Christ Jesus (if Christian), can put us at odds with those who lockstep with the majority, but it is worth it. Yet to do so without becoming a gadfly to others, but an example. There are a lot of God-fearing people (from different religious traditions), who are sane, and not fanatical out there, yet often silent. Perhaps we need to speak up more, but in such a way that we can challenge, by showing another way that is not condescending, nor arrogant in how it is presented.
So this lent, for those of us who make it a part of their spiritual lives, perhaps we can fast in ways that are helpful for our soul’s health. To pray and reflect, to be silent before God, can only be accomplished when we disconnect from that which is not necessary, but simply ways to fill our time.
Our hearts are restless, Lord, until we rest in thee.—St Augustine
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