Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Create in me a pure heart, O God
Sojourning for a time in Florence, Italy, I've decided to offer up my second annual observance of Lent on this blog with photographs (I've taken) that accord with themes shaped by this city's patron saint, St. John the Baptist. The Prophet Joel gives voice to the divine plea, "return to me with all your heart," and Paul the Apostle implores us, "Be reconciled to God!" How do we do this? How do we return to God? How do we become reconciled to him? Surely it is by listening to John's call: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near!" and "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him." John teaches us that the ability to return and to be reconciled to God begins not with us but with God and his drawing close; we ready ourselves not for what we will do but for what God will do. So it is with Lent – we fast and pray not to make ourselves more capable but to make ourselves more ready for what God will do on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday. John prepares us for the coming of the Lord by his preaching and his example – he is the original Christian ascetic. So, for this Lenten season, I for one will contemplate John's life, with the help of Florentine art and sites, in the hopes that his spiritual patronage will perhaps extend to me as well, by God's grace.
(Photo of Fra Angelico's "Crucifixion with Saints" at the Musei San Marco, crop of John the Baptist.)