“Now I Begin!”

Say then with boldness, “Now I begin,” and go forward constantly in God’s service. Do not look
back so often, because one who looks back cannot run. And do not be content to begin only for
this year. Begin every day, because it is for every day, even for every hour of the day, that the
Lord taught us to say in the Our Father, “Forgive us our trespasses,” and, “Give us this day our
daily bread.”
– Venerable Bruno Lanteri (1759 – 1839) – Founder of Oblates of the Virgin Mary

Today is the third Sunday of Lent – a good time to take a quick Lenten check-up. How are we
doing? Are we on track, or have we fallen off course a bit…or even a lot? No matter, even if we
have slipped we can say with Venerable Bruno, “Now I begin!” We can’t change the past, but
we can shape the future by beginning again – today. It is easy for us to be discouraged if we
suddenly realize, while scarfing down a Hinkley’s chocolate crescent donut, that we had given
up sweets this Lent. Oops! Or, what if we miss a day of our novena or remember our 1pm
adoration chapel holy hour at 2:30pm? Double oops! But, no worries… “Now I begin!” Say it
aloud, “Now I begin! Again, I place my focus on you, O God, to deepen our relationship in this
holy season of Lent. I will not obsess over my misstep.”

Yes, we should have high goals and expectations. Yes, we should strive for holiness and a
perfect love of God and neighbor. And, yes, we should avoid sloppiness and a lack of discipline,
but far, far worse is what could be called the poison of perfectionism. Why? Because
perfectionism is rooted in pride and places the focus primarily on ourselves. Thankfully, not all
of us possess the perfectionist tendency, but for those who do, perfectionism sets an unrealistic
and unachievable standard. Worse yet, it always disappoints and guarantees discouragement
to its adherents. Furthermore, discouragement is one of the enemy’s principle strategies to
render us ineffective in proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God with power, conviction
and joy.

Author Jack Canfield tells the following story:
Driving home from work one day, I stopped to watch a local Little League baseball game. As I
sat down behind the bench on the first-base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was.
“We’re behind 14 to nothing,” he answered, smiling.
“Really,” I said.
“I have to say you don’t look very discouraged.”
“Discouraged?” the boy asked with a puzzled look.“Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t been up to bat yet.”

Hopefully, for most of us Lent is going well as planned. Perhaps for others a little tweaking
would be in order, or maybe there are even some of us who feel like we’ve flunked out of Lent
and haven’t even been up to bat. Do not be discouraged! That is why we invoke the
penitential act at the beginning of every Mass, why Night Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours
begins with an examination of conscience, and why, for weightier matters, we have the
Sacrament of Reconciliation. “The Lord is kind and merciful…abounding in steadfast love.”
Psalm 103:8

Again, Venerable Bruno tells us, “Holiness does not consist in never failing, but in rising
immediately, recognizing our weakness and asking God’s forgiveness, and in doing this with
peace of heart without letting ourselves be troubled.”

Blessings upon your Lenten journey!
+Deacon Dave