This week marks the beginning of Lent. At churches this time of year, reading lists are suggested, prayer and fasting regimens outlined, almsgiving opportunities provided — all potentially fruitful and beneficial for believers. I must stress I speak as one who should, may well try, but probably won’t make much headway with any of these.
And I stress potentially fruitful and beneficial, for if these disciplines are not carried out with the full recognition that we cannot in any way justify ourselves in the eyes of God, if they are not conducted in the full light of the Cross, we will be only fooling ourselves.
These disciplines cannot save us. They can help us grow closer to God. But they can in no way bridge the chasm between immortal God and sinful man. Only the Cross and the Resurrection provide the bridge; and he who died and rose again bought our crossing with a price. “For there is no distinction,” St. Paul says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”p>If I were asked to suggest Lenten readings from outside of Scripture itself, and particularly ones that remind us that human effort, no matter how Herculean, will never enable us to scale Heaven’s walls, I’d point to the Holy Sonnets, a series of poems where the 17th century poet and clergyman John Donne acknowledges his deep need for God if sin is going to be put away. Here is the fifth in the 19-sonnet sequence (you can find all of them here ): br> /p> blockquote> em>I am a little world made cunningly br> Of elements, and an angelic sprite, br> But black sin hath betrayed to endless night br> My world’s both parts, and, oh, both parts must die. /em> /blockquote>
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?