|Peter Paul Rubens ~ St. Teresa of Avila|
Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, "It is foolish to think we will enter heaven without entering ourselves." Teresa was a reformer of the Carmelite order whose members had grown worldly and lazy. She likely made some enemies directing her sisters to look inside and know themselves truly. It was more comfortable sitting in the parlor entertaining guests for tea all afternoon.
Lent is approaching and yet again we're invited to go with Jesus into the desert. Of course, the desert is inside ourselves, the place where, un-distracted, we are alone with God. And pray God, come Easter, somehow we are better persons, more fully alive as God would have us, more grown up in Christ.
Carmelites fast from food at different times during the liturgical year. But Teresa acknowledges that it's important for her to fast from making herself the important center of everything by going around all day expressing her likes and dislikes. A lot of energy can go into telling everyone I meet what pleases and displeases me. So here are a few possibilities we might consider with Teresa as we prepare to "go inside" with our Lenten fasting.
Fasting from I, I, I, I, I. A certain radio talk show host begins every other sentence with"I".
Fasting from complaining. We are among the most comfortable people on the planet, and yet, if we tune in to ourselves, there's an awful of complaining.
Fasting from so much noise - who can hear God's whisper!
Fasting from so much shopping. One monk says, "In this country it's not the Kingdom come but the thingdom come.
Fasting from having so much to say about everything. It's so common, it's even got a name. It's called bloviating.
Fasting from so many assessments of other people: spouses, siblings, parents, fellow workers, in-laws, maybe even the priest.
Fasting from so many opinions. One woman said of herself, "There's nothing new or original about myself; I'm just opinions."
Fasting from procrastination, making excuses or enabling others.
That's enough - we get the idea. "It is foolish to think we will enter heaven without entering ourselves." But some people never go there; deserts can be scary.