This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
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Jesus said to his disciples: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
“Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Cor 6:2).
I love Lent!!! I love Ash Wednesday. I am soooo excited! Why, you ask? Because even I get my ashes today. That’s right. Even I get to go around with ashes on my forehead. Not only that, but I can show my ashes and wear my priestly uniform at the same time! How exciting! Today, everyone can see for themselves that I am a sinner! What a relief!
Confusing, but not confused. I love Lent because I can be human, again. I don’t have to look perfect or act perfect or even be perfect. I can be human. What a feeling!!!
Don’t allow the pressure of perfection to ruin the joy of living!
Today I receive my ashes, the Catholic version of the puritan’s “Scarlet Letter.” They don’t come in dazzling colors, but only in black. They’re not placed on my breast but on my forehead for all to see. They don’t come in the shape of a letter but in the shape of a cross. Although they may look totally different from one another, they all mean the same exact thing: Sinner.
Ashes are both ugly and beautiful, just like the crucifix.
They are ugly and beautiful because they symbolize two things: imperfection and compunction. Wow! Wow! Wow! How liberating! How exciting!
It seems obvious to think of oneself as being imperfect, right? Well, think again. The movie industry has infected us all. It has given us the illusion of the perfect man. Oh, if life were only like Hollywood, then we would all be allowed to take as many retakes as necessary to come out as perfectly as possible.
Unfortunately, life and people in general do not afford us this luxury. We are expected to be perfect the first time around.
Saints and sinners. Lent is an eloquent reminder of the only real difference between saints and sinners; that is, between real people and “real-life” actors. Saints are real people who know they are sinners and want to do something about it. Sinners are ”real-life” actors who go around as if they are saints and don’t need a retake.
No wonder why sinners find it so hard to forgive others. It must be so frustrating to live with so many imperfect people. They get everything right the first time around. And is there any wonder why sinners find it so hard to love those who disagree with them? They’re perfect! They’re always right. And we are “100% wrong.”
Best Hollywood Actor. Did you watch the Oscars a few nights ago? Did you stay up to hear Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech?
Matthew is a Hollywood actor, a real person, not a “real-life” actor. I’m pretty sure he knows the difference. The poor man has been through a very long Lent. A few nights ago was his Easter morning.
After receiving the Oscar for Best Actor, Matthew McConaughey took advantage of the spotlight and cameras to share his innermost feelings with the world. First he thanked God, then his family, and finally his hero. Who is it?
“When I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say ‘who’s your hero?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.’ I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says ‘who’s your hero?’ I said, ‘I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.’ So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, ‘So, are you a hero?’ And I was like, ‘not even close. No, no, no.’ She said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Because my hero’s me at 35.’ So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.
What a speech! I was floored. I couldn’t believe my ears.
Matthew McConaughey, the actor in “Dazed and Confused,” is confusing but not confused. He is brilliant. Who does he look up to as his hero? Himself, ten years from now.
That got me thinking… Who do I look up to as my hero? Myself, forty-days and forty nights from now.
How exciting! (161)