instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

This joyful season
Come, let us worship Christ the Lord, Who for our sake endured temptation and suffering.
With these words, the Church invites us to begin another season of Lent, a time of penance and conversion. "By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert."

During the day, though, millions of rosaries will be picked up, the words "the first glorious mystery, the Resurrection of Our Lord" recited.

Or perhaps the words will be "the first sorrowful mystery, the Agony in the Garden." There's nothing wrong with, and much to be said for, adjusting the mysteries of the Rosary to the liturgical calendar. "Wednesdays are Glorious" is a custom of convenience.

And yet, there's also something to be said for letting the Rosary march along to its own rhythym. Meditating on the Resurrection on Ash Wednesday may seem discordant at first thought, but I think in reality they're in harmony. The purpose of Jesus' retreat to the desert was preparation for His mission, which led to His Resurrection and Ascension. The end of our penance and self-denial is not penance and self-denial, but union with God through Jesus Christ, as most perfectly experienced by His mother Mary.

The gem of great price is not a faceted crystal, but a smooth pearl. Although we incarnate creatures can only touch one part of it at any given moment, there is no division to it. Jesus' fasting, His teaching, His passion, His exaltation: they are not separate pieces, they are the temporal extension of the one act of love between the Father and the Son.

So even this early in a season of repentance, it makes sense to anticipate briefly the end for which we repent, and the end for which He Whose title we bear came among us. It did not end in the desert. It did not end on Calvary. It has not yet ended, and it never shall end.