Monday, March 9, 2009


The following is an article that I found at Spirit Daily by Father Dwight Longenecker. I thought it was very timely and worth reading:

Human beings suffer from two huge illusions. First, that life is supposed to be comfortable and second, that someone will make it comfortable for them. We suffer from this illusion because our expectations are determined by our first experiences. If a kid goes to school, and on the first day the class bully picks on him, he loses his lunch, the teacher gives him tough homework and he misses the bus home he's going to expect school to be a bad place to be. His expectations are determined by his first experience.

Our first experience is in the womb. It's safe. It's warm. There are three square meals a day. Then most of us have nine more months of care, warmth, sweet food, comfort and security. After that we usually have even more time in childhood when someone looks after us, feeds us, keeps us warm and safe. Our expectations are determined by our first experiences. So we enter into adult life thinking that life is about finding or maintaining or defending a comfort zone. This is our basic desire. We want to be safe. We want to be warm. We want to have pleasure. We want to have a full tummy. We want to escape from hardship. We want to escape from work. We want to get back to the womb, and we think life is about comfort zones. This is our desire.

But it is an illusion. A huge illusion. That is not what life is for at all. Life is for growth and achievement and most of all soul making. That is why the desert of Lent is important. The desert corrects our desire. When we willingly go out into the desert of Lent and take some hardship and pray more and give more we are willingly correcting the huge two illusions--that life is about being comfortable and that someone else is going to make us comfortable. In Lent, but God's grace, we take responsibility for ourselves. We accept that life (and also our religion) is not about comfort zones, but war zones.

This is why we fast during Lent: to correct the comfort instinct. Instead we embrace hardship. We do this not because we just need to lose weight or break a bad habit or because there is any virtue in suffering, but because we need to correct the comfort instinct. This is why we give alms--not just because the poor need money, but because we need to give. We need to break the instinct for a secure comfort zone and give up some of the money that we would use to buy that security. This is why we pray more--to break the self dependency and acknowledge our need for God.

So this Lent, let's go out with the Lord to the Desert and pray for the natural desire for comfort be replaced with a sober and realistic expectation that this life is not just to feel good, but to become good.

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