I am trying this new series for Mondays on the Collect for the day and week. Let me know if you like it, and I’ll keep doing them.
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
In the first week of Lent, we are reminded, without a doubt, that Christ takes our place in all our failing. His 40 day fast reminds us of the 40 years of the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness and how they failed to trust in God in that time. How despite all of His provision, they continually wanted more or something else than what they had been given. We are also reminded that He was able to overcome the same temptations that Adam and failed to resist.
We are still called to abstinence from our fleshly desires. St. Paul continually reminded us of the battle between the flesh and the spirit. At the same time, he did not accept Gnosticism. He recognized that sin corrupted the good things that were created with God’s loving hands, our flesh has been corrupted by the first sins of Adam. We need to understand even though sin roams free in our world, our world was not created evil, material isn’t bad while the spiritual good, rather when Adam sin, corruption entered. Our hearts are often inclined to make mini-gods out of these material things. When we have created these gods in our heart, we are called to repent and let Jesus comes back into where he ought to reside. God alone must be our sovereign.
Lent is a time of returning our spirit to the subduing of the Holy Spirit. This is no easy task. For as long as Men have been alive we have wanted to make ourselves into our own god. We want to rule all we do. It is hard to give this up, and so when we pray this Collect, we use the word subdue because our hearts are wild and so desperately want to not be subdued. It is in being subdued that we find true peace in Christ.
Being subdued means to return to righteousness and holiness. It is not our holiness or righteousness that we put upon ourselves. When returning to these virtues, we do not do it with a sense of self-sufficiency but with complete dependency upon Christ. We put upon ourselves the grace of Christ, and it is in Him that we find a good and holy lifestyle.
We do not do these things to our glory, but to the glory of God. Lent is actually learning to walk and live in the glory of God. This is the invitation and joy that we enjoy during this season. It is this glory that we are looking forward to fully experience at the end of time.