O My Soul

By on in

Every Lent I am surprised by how truly difficult it can be to give something up and stick to it. Even harder is giving anyone the impression that I’m enjoying myself. Usually for the first few weeks I hobble through my sacrifice with little to no angelic glow, just counting the days till Sunday, when I can indulge in that piece of pie or television show. And then I am humbled and shamefaced in the confessional the following week, recounting how, on the Lord’s Day, I binged on whatever I gave up for Lent. All too often on Lenten Sundays, instead of celebrating the Resurrection with the budding spiritual fruit of penance and a moderate enjoyment of the things I’ve sacrificed, I worship at the altar of the very thing I’ve given up. And no matter how full of strawberry rhubarb pie and ice cream I get, or no matter how many episodes of the Office I watch, my heart is still hungry. This is one of the Mysteries that Lent highlights so well. To borrow some wisdom from Mr. Bruce Springsteen, ‘everybody’s got a hungry heart.’ (Thanks Boss!)

As we attempt to remove distractions and addictions during penitential seasons of the Church, the reality of just how hungry our hearts are begins to sink in. Where there were ten cups of coffee a day, we find dust in the corners and briars in the flower patches. Where there was unlimited screen time, we find our hearts’ interior chambers, once crackling with fire, darkened and silent. And without the easy solace of the things we’ve sacrificed, we are forced into looking for joy elsewhere. As Catholics, we know that the Source of all joy is God Himself.

Sometimes when I think about it, Lenten penance feels like the mischievous wisdom of God through His Church. It only takes having one piece removed from the Jenga puzzle that is our daily lives to send us scrambling for help. I can just hear God chuckling to Himself, “I guess if We make them give up coffee or T.V. or sugar, they’ll remember that I’m up here!” (No, God doesn’t have multiple personalities and bipolar disorder…He’s just multiple Persons in one Person—three, in fact. But also just one. Simple, right? In the words of the Dude, “Catholicism, man.” Okay, the Dude never said that. But I’m sure you know what I mean.)

Sacrifice bears beautiful spiritual fruit. Penance, like the stark winter before the springtime, brings raucous new life. This we know from the seasons of the earth, from the seasons of the Church year, and from Holy Scripture.* One of the most beautiful fruits of sacrifice is simply an awareness of our need for God. We give up something we rely on for comfort or sanity (caffeine or sugar, anyone?) and we discover an underlying need there. We need God. That never changes—but often, until we strip away some of the earthly things we feel that we need to get by, we forget that what we need most is God and His life-giving, sustaining, unbelievable Love. Is it any surprise that the best path to knowing that Love is through the Cross, which Lent points us to? God’s Son knows that sustaining Love from experience. Lent is an invitation to share in the knowledge of Love of God, born of sacrifice and bearing great fruit. When we know who we need the most, and we see His love for us in the cross of Christ, we truly begin to know joy.

If we really believe that we so desperately need these things which we have sacrificed, we are believing a lie. Let’s not lie to ourselves this Lent by focusing more on the sacrifices than rejoicing in the fruits—the sweet presence of God, the knowledge of His love and mercy, and the joy of simply being known by Him. Let us learn to love God above all else.

*Ezekiel 18:21 But if the wicked do penance for all his sins which he hath committed, and keep all my commandments, and do judgment, and justice, living he shall live, and shall not die.

 

O My Soul

(c) 2011 Audrey Assad

Rivers and stones, and the trees of the field, they sing in the night.

And a thousand tongues lay deep in your lungs to raise to the sky.

Don’t lie to yourself, o my soul–love your God.

 

Deep in your heart, you feather and tar your folly and fear.

Expose them for the fools they are and the world comes clear.

Don’t lie to yourself, o my soul–love your God.

 

Your worries will never love you.

They’ll leave you all alone.

But your God will not forsake you, o my soul.

 

Don’t lie to yourself, o my soul–love your God.

 
Audrey Assad

About Audrey Assad

Audrey Assad is an independent singer, musician, and songwriter whose musical influences range from Paul Simon and the Carpenters to Feist and Jack White. More often than not she has her nose in a book—usually something by Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, Pope John Paul II, or Madeline L'Engle. Born and raised and home-schooled in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, Audrey worked one of her first jobs in New York City at 16—and she's been an entrepreneur ever since! After spending a few years in sunny South Florida (where she converted to Catholicism), Audrey moved to Nashville, TN and spent 4 years working with Sparrow Records. She married William Price III in 2011 and she has a great passion for extolling the peculiarities and joys of the Sacrament. She now makes music for the Church which that Sacrament so vividly illuminates. In her spare time, Audrey is an avid and adventurous home cook—her experiments usually involve bacon.