Prayer to Pen – Lent: A Time for Substantial Personal Reform

By Father Frank Ryan OMI

We seldom recognise the plank in our own eyes, and indeed as we look around the faults of other people can make us feel quite virtuous. So, no need to look hard at ourselves?

When I was involved in the running of a hostel for young Irish men, who had been homeless, we noticed that about one in ten would wet the bed at night. This was for the most part associated with excessive drinking (alcohol). This was a serious health issue that called for some straight talking with the resident. The excuses usually ran like this… “It very seldom happens”, “I need a drink to talk to girls”, or “I met old friends and we all had too much to drink”. Upon further investigation another pattern seemed to develop; they all started to drink excessively from a young age often also within an unhealthy family culture.

Clearly, a life changing event was needed. The bodily fantasies needed cognitive enlightenment with reinforcing disciplines. How do you make meaningful contact with these energetic 17 year olds (children) in a way that amends their lives? They had acquired habits that were doing irreversible damage to their bodies. Lent is always a motivating occasion, but seldom is their faith strong enough to enforce abstinence. Often I found myself discussing their romantic aspirations, and moving the conversation to long term commitments. At the appropriate time I would enquire where they were going to find someone who would be contented to sleep with a person who wets the bed? I would suggest all they could expect is one night stands! We all have a plank in our eye.

The motivation to reform has many determining factors. The methodology for implementing reform also has many paths. What the church is attempting to set before us is that the end result should see our relationship with God is not impeded by obnoxious distractions. Then, being able to see the face of God more clearly we should be able to celebrate Easter with new understanding, and purified energy.

One comment

  • james mc coll

    Yes. I enjoyed your words Fr.Frank.
    It is just a throw of the dice,I think,as to where you land up in life..
    The young men,you refer to,have been most unfortunate.
    There are a good few in a similar situation here,in Colwyn Bay.
    I just wish that more could be done for them.

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