8 December 2017
The title for this Commonplace was originally “Stay Awake!” It is such a clarion call for action!
It’s time to muck out the Augean stables; Advent is here again when a bit of soul-searching is in order, in preparation for the great Feast of Christmas.
Don’t imagine that the onset of old age equals the onset of virtue. Anybody with any experience of the elderly will tell you that they can be just as nasty as they were when in their green youth. The image of the sweet little old lady and the cuddly old gent may well be misleading: she still has the tongue of a serpent and he the habits of a misspent youth.
Personally I thought it would be much easier to be “good” when I got older. Not a bit of it. The same old “besetters”, if I may call them so, still crop up with the regularity of indigestion. A glutton when young is still a greedy old person: stuffing till you can’t swallow despite the smaller helping. (I speak from sad experience.) Pride by the spadeful with a mouthful of boasts, as shocking as the prophet’s fourth beast.
Covetousness? Perhaps not; certainly not for my neighbour’s goat – or husband come to that. Envy yes, often. It’s hard not to be envious of the lissom girl, running upstairs or pedalling like fury down the towpath. Luxurious plaits of blonde hair? Oh gosh yes!
What about lust? I’m afraid it never entirely diminishes but still takes one unawares as shameful as ever.
Those old familiars sloth and jealousy still lurk in the wings ready to slither out at the slightest oppo. There’s a subtlety about sloth; it suggests you are tired, old and tired with every excuse to take it easy, put your feet up, you deserve it at your age. Surely not plain lazy?
Jealousy is the old bugbear closely aligned with pride in my book. Hand in hand, delighting in every stumble, every stupid judgement or unkind remark. They are always ready to trick one into causing others to get into trouble – surely one of the worst sins one can commit?
For these are sins – there’s no other way of describing them. They are not peccadilloes or “mistakes”.
So the battle continues, wearisome because so repetitive. It’s no good pushing it to the back of one’s mind or, like Scarlett O’Hara, thinking about it tomorrow. Square up and admit. Take that sword in hand and have a swipe at the roots!
For myself, I have to kneel (well, sit these days) and spew it out, often sprinkled with tears, to God, represented by a confessor. I have written about Confession before, but listen up! Scour out the corners, let the light in, then go and give it all an honest airing.
I promise you, you will feel better knowing you are forgiven and can start afresh, hopefully with good advice. We know that the boundless mercy of God is for every single person; all-embracing, all loving, all forgiving. He only wants us to ask for it.
Kyrie eleison — Lord have mercy!
Last time I went to Confession my penance was 5 minutes’ silence.
BH was jolly pleased!