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Crimea, Lent and Personal Sanctity

March 12, 2014

Many of us would like to see the world change and are even helping causes that attempt to 'make the world a better place.' I don't by default disagree with those endeavors, but it's important to keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, and even if we do right some wrong in the world there isn't much to guard against different kinds of corruption and suffering from entering the world through our good intentions. That's just the cycle of human nature. History is a cyclical tale of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. The only relief we get from this cycle is our time with God, who constantly invites us to something beyond this world. The best we can do is keep the evils we know at bay and promote the good things we know, while keeping our transcendent end in sight and remembering that we're not meant for this world.

Keeping heaven in sight means sustaining that hope which inspires us to do good, to draw closer to God and strive for holiness. The greatest works of centuries gone by were inspired by that desire for heaven, not by a desire to make the world a better place. To make our environment conducive to living out a life of virtue -- that is the only noble purpose when it comes to making an effective change in our society. Virtue is the realization of God working in our life, and our main concern should be to live such a life so as to sanctify ourselves -- rather than try to right the wrongs of the world.

"Sanctify yourself, and you will sanctify the world," St. Francis of Assisi is known for saying. I stress the importance of focusing on our own weaknesses not only because it is Lent, but also because world affairs have drawn our attention to a distant region of Eastern Europe during this season of penance. I'm not saying this is definitely a trick of the devil, but what better way to take our focus off of our own souls than by having us worry about a region of Ukraine instead -- a region that most of us probably never heard of a few weeks ago? It is just like the devil to use the affairs of the world to make us forget about our souls. Take note of that, and please remember that I am not a pacifist or an isolationist. To discuss my reasons would make this post political, and I don't want that. I simply want people to remember that it is Lent:  don't let the affairs of the world or anything in it distract you from your spiritual journey.

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