Learn Compunction

Learn Compunction

February 14, 2018 | N W | Commitment, Deacon Eddie, Lent, Repentance, Self-Reflection, Sin, Strength

Ash Wednesday
February 14, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Jl 2:12-18 / Ps 51 / 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2 / Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

Happy Ash Wednesday . . . or is it Happy Valentine’s Day . . . or is it Happy St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day? I don’t know. Do you know? Have you ever wondered how we know what feast is on what day? How do we know whether it’s a feast, whether it takes precedence over something else?

There’s a book for that called an Ordo. This particular Ordo is for several different dioceses: Louisville, Arlington, Covington, Lexington, Owensboro, Richmond, and Wheeling/Charleston. This little book breaks out every day. It tells us what we celebrate that day. If you pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and you’re not sure what you’re supposed to do for the day, this little book tells you. It’s a little cryptic when you first look at it, but once you figure it out, it’s really handy.

Another thing contained in this book is a short synopsis of the readings of the day. That can be a handy thing when you have to preach, and you’re not sure what you want to say. I noticed earlier this week, the Ordo contains a very long reflection on Lent. As I was trying to figure out what I was going to say to you, I read this reflection and realized I couldn’t do any better than that. So I’m going to share with you a few things that the Ordo points out as we start our journey through Lent.

The first thing the Ordo explains is the readings. The readings in Lent are actually in two parts. The first section of readings, for the first few weeks, are from the Gospel of Matthew. These gospels focus on the Christian life. They focus on how to be a disciple of Christ, and they focus on some do’s and don’ts. For example, today’s gospel gives a whole list: how to give alms, how to pray, and how to fast.

But there’s a transition later on in Lent. The readings switch to the Gospel of John. If you’ve ever studied the gospels, the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar. They read like a story and start with a genealogy. The Gospel of John is different, as indicated at the very beginning: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Completely different.

Part of the reason is the fact that the Gospel of John was written much later than the others, so the Christology is much higher. That’s why we switch to the Gospel of John. Because after we’ve spent weeks getting a refresher course on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, we’re going to switch and look at who Christ, and how who He is and what He is has a huge effect on us.

I learned a new word as I was looking through this reflection: compunction. I had to look it up. Loosely translated, it’s like Catholic guilt. As I read the definition, however, I realized that we really don’t understand what Catholic guilt should be. The word “compunction” implies a feeling of guilt, not so much for what you’ve done, but a feeling of guilt that stops you from doing it in the first place. That’s why we have Lent. We have Lent to help us develop a sense of compunction: to develop our morals so we don’t have to constantly live in a state of regret, in a state of guilt. We will develop our skills so that we will stop before we act.