At Mass on Sunday the priest asked us I wonder if they are thinking to themselves. I wonder if he is going to mention that it is three days to Lent and he did. In previous years Lent has hung over me like a pall; because of the grim thought of giving up something really difficult like alcohol. This year I have resolved to give up anger and dissatisfaction and jealousy, an even more impossible task, but Gabriel one can only try. One trick is to recognise the symptoms in a line of thought and then before or at the moment that the anger bubbles up, quickly say five Hail Marys.
On Tuesday, a friend was telling me that his father told him when he went into his first job “Remember this: whenever you go into a room, no one is better or worse than you.” This seems a pretty good philosophy in life.
I was thinking of this on Ash Wednesday. If I can go to the Cathedral for the imposition of ashes and to listen to Allegri’s Miserere. As the last notes are sung from the galleries high above the nave, the haunting alto seems to pierce the soul with a kind of despair mixed with hope.
On the first Thursday of Lent, Jesus in Matthew 7:7-12 puts it forcibly:
“The one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.”
But I have been searching for years and the door still remains ajar.
I have even today, Friday, started to read the Koran. It is difficult to read and understand. The Arabic may be a prose masterpiece but it is lost in translation.
“Every soul shall taste of death: and ye shall only receive your recompenses on the day of resurrection. And who so shall scape the fire, and be brought into Paradise, shall be happy. And the life of this world is but a cheating fruition!” (Sura 3, the Koran)
Jesus tells us this Friday in Matthew 5:20-26:
“If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Perhaps that is where my own virtue is at present. On this first Saturday in Lent, Jesus tells us:
“I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
I am reading a history of Jerusalem at the moment. It is a pity that the treaty between Richard I and Saladin didn’t last. It basically guaranteed freedom for pilgrims to visit Jerusalem, whether Muslim or Christian. If it had included Jews it would have been perfect.
“Of the enemy of God thou hast spoken to them in gentle terms. Hadst thou been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from thee. Therefore forgive and ask for pardon for them, and consult them in the affair of war, and when thou art resolved, then put thou thy trust in God, for God loveth those who trust in Him.” (Sura 3, the Koran)