"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

OK, now that it's Lent...

I'm already blowing it. I left Ash Wednesday Mass at my local parish right after Communion.

That's because I didn't want to wait ten minutes in the usual post-blessing traffic jam to get out of the parking lot. This is the Catholic Church, after all: "here comes everybody," in James Joyce's phrase, which entails "there goes everybody" too. And so the ashes were still fresh on my furrowed brow when I failed to exercise the virtue of patience. That's a rather egregious failing because a prayer for patience is one of the few God will always answer as asked. I neither asked nor waited.

Still, I do have a feasible Lenten resolution: to save enough money to move near a library where I can actually do the research I need to fortify the book I hope to publish so as to re-establish myself professionally. Lest that seem too self-seeking as well as too complicated, let me remind you that I have child support to pay and am no good at selling cars or houses because they do not interest me. Nor have I ever wanted to be a laywer like my father. Unlike him, I don't have what it takes to remain in a state of grace after being immersed all day in human greed, mendacity, and vindictiveness. And so there's nothing for it but to network and publish. Anybody who wants to help me do that is free to e-mail me.

In the meantime, one theme from the papal Ash Wednesday message this year is worth pondering in its own right, which cannot be said of every such message:

Lent, as a time of listening to the truth, it is a propitious moment to be converted to love, as the profound truth -- the truth of God – is, at the same time, love. A love that is able to assume the Lord's attitude of compassion and mercy, as I wished to remind in the Lenten Message, which has as its theme the words of the Gospel: "When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them" (Matthew 9:36).

I'm beginning to see that the Pope wants to overcome the oft-presumed dichotomy between truth and love. Since God is love, the truth about God and what he reveals to be his will for us must be compatible with love and able to be proclaimed with love. If more of us understood how, there would be far fewer Catholics wondering how much they can get away with disbelieving.

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