We are mere days away from the end of our yearly Lenten journey. For too many of us, the wandering in the wilderness, the abstaining, the humility and perseverance of this season will be forgotten amidst the Easter feast and return to normal life. Before we become victims of our cultural excesses, may we hear a helpful warning to war against this tendency.
“There can be no doubt that monastic life should always have a Lenten character about it.”
-St. Benedict, The Rule, Chapter 49
Since Benedict was writing for everyone, I am of the opinion that we could read this simple quote today in the following manner: There can be no doubt that the life of a follower of Jesus should always have a Lenten character about it.
Said another way by N. T. Wright in reference to the ultimate goal of our Christian life:
The idea of a goal, an ultimate aim, calling us to a hard road of self-denial—the idea, in other words that Jesus of Nazareth meant what he said when he spoke of people taking up their cross to follow!—has been quietly removed from the record, not only of secular Western life but also, extraordinarily, of a fair amount of Christian discourse.
-N. T. Wright, After You Believe, p. 53
It is time for us to return to the hard road of self-denial as the default position in the life of following after Jesus. Not merely as a part of our Lenten observance (although, it needs to be intensified during this time) but as a part of our everyday living.
May we keep a blessed Lent (and keep a Lenten character to our everyday living).