Change – it’s the only constant in life, or so people have been telling me. I’ve been going through some big changes personally and with the wider Church. Appropriately, these changes are happening on the cusp of Lent.
Lent is all about change. We often refer to Lent as a time for “metanoia.” In Greek, metanoia means “changing one’s mind.” While researching this word I found that it is used in other disciplines besides theology, but the meanings are strikingly relevant here.
In the realm of rhetoric “metanoia” refers to correction. In psychology this word refers to a psychotic break down followed by healing. Although I hope none of you experiences an actual psychotic break down during Lent, this makes for a great analogy. Lent should consist of breaking down all of our sinful habits, which is incredibly painful but ends in the healing of Easter. Most of the time change is painful, even if it is ultimately for Good. The recent change in my life was incredibly painful and yet there is a deep sense of peace about it. I know there will be healing eventually and that God’s hand is bringing everything together for a greater purpose.
The entire Roman Catholic Church was surprised by a huge change recently. Many people are deeply saddened and confused by the Pope’s resignation. We must trust that this change is also for the Good, leading to the building up and healing of the Church. In the video below Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria points out the lesson of detachment we can learn from this event and I think his words reveal why it is so timely that this happened at the beginning of Lent.
At the beginning of this lent we have an example of a holy man who has humbly allowed God to make a change for the Good of the Church. He took a realistic look at himself and discerned that someone else would be better for the job. As a side note – I am simply using this as a timely example – no scandal or spiritual failings caused the pope’s resignation, it was due to his failing health.
As for this being a surprise – since when does God makes changes when and how we expect them? The greatest moments of conversion are usually a surprise. St. Paul literally fell off his horse the moment his life was changed forever.
Saying that change is the only constant in life is utterly and totally false. God is the only constant – the only unchanging, immovable thing we can ever count on. “The Holy Spirit does not go on Holidays!”
It is us that needs to change, or more accurately, allow God to change us. If God seems farther away, who moved?