For centuries, the Church has observed Lent as a season for examining our personal spiritual growth. We can recall the practice as children of giving up something that we especially liked for those forty days. But as we grow older, we try to reflect Saint Paul’s insight: “When I was a child I thought as a child but now that I am an adult, I have put away the things of a child” [1 Cor 13:11]. We have become more committed to rending our hearts and not our garments. [Joel 2:13].
If we continue our reflection on Chapter 13 of the Letter to the Corinthians, we discover a perfect barometer for measuring our growth in the spiritual life. Paul begins by saying that love is always patient. How patient are we with those who are part of our daily lives? Love is kind. Are we consistently kind, no matter the person with whom we are dealing? Love is not pompous. Do we lord it over others by expressions of superiority or demonstrations of our intellectual acumen rather than humbly serving one another? How courteous and respectful are we in dealing with our brothers and sisters regardless of their station in life? Love does not brood. Do we harbor hurts for long periods of time and forget about our own shortcomings? Paul’s letter gives us more than enough material to dwell on during these days as we attempt to measure up to our sacred calling of being the presence of Christ in our world. Paul also reminds us that no matter what our gifts are, ultimately they will all pass away and that only our acts of love of God and neighbor are what endure.
Let us honestly evaluate ourselves on each of these characteristics during this Lent. They are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago when Paul was encouraging the Christian community of Corinth to act in such a manner. Maybe then on Easter morning we can share fully in the joy the Resurrection with the knowledge that we have tried to grow more in the image of our Risen Lord.
– Sister Helen R. Boyd, OP
Sister Helen resides in Dominican Convent where she serves
on the Life Enrichment Committee and co-chairs the
Committee for Serving Vulnerable Populations.