Lenten Awakenings

What does it mean for a Catholic to act well? I would say acting well for a Catholic means to follow one’s conscience in a state of faithful submission to what one honestly believes the teachings of Christ’s church indicate about the best action to take in a given situation. By the end of Lent, we should be better at doing this. As I have said all season, penance is meant to help us grow in virtue, which can aid the interior transformation Christ wants to perform in each of us. Do not be surprised if over the course of these forty days you experience remarkable awakenings of self-knowledge. This can happen because growth in virtue has a way of clearing our perception of why we do what we do, bringing into focus true motivations that were previously obscured when we were more dominated by vice. Consider as an example the seventh deadly vice of pride. Let us imagine I have been doing penance designed to help me grow in the corresponding Heavenly virtue of humility. At a certain point of successful death to pride, my conscience may start to recognize motivations of ego-gratification behind behavior of mine that up to that point I had perceived as humble. Such realizations can be startling but also exhilarating steps into greater freedom. As we progress toward clearer self-awareness we can see new possibilities for being better, happier, and closer to fulfilling our God-give potential.


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