The Template

Please listen to this music Antiphon: Immutemur (Latin for ‘change’) while reading this post.

Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan, because what are the chances I’ll ever be in midtown Manhattan again on an Ash Wednesday?

The act echoes the ancient tradition of throwing ashes over one’s head to signify repentance before God. Kneeling within the neo-gothic architecture. ‘Neo’ echoing the concept of new or revived form of.

Sort of apropos for the kid.

‘Revived form of’ embedded with the implication that something was there all along, went away for awhile and is now returning.

I try not to let religion get in the way of spirituality. I look at the big picture. The inverted pyramid of why we’re here.

My Lent begins in the Big Apple. The season of preparation, 40 days of moderation and spiritual discipline. Prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. It will end back home in the Little Apple (unless the plane goes down.)

Self-denial is a real female dog for me. Before easing onto the glidepath to the precipice, my m.o. tended toward pride and arrogance, rooted in a lack of sensibility and ignorance, disguised as confidence. The young upwardly mobile professional, the one with all the answers.

Mike’s will. Not God’s will.

Like me, it's undergoing renovation.

There are steps I can take. There are rituals I can observe. There are songs I can sing, dogmas to be bought into. The template is as old as the universe and comes to life during mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But all of it is ancillary to what lies within. I just need to be smart enough to use the friggin’ template.

There’ll be no meat for this carnivore for the next few Fridays. Not because it in itself is worthy of virtue, but because it helps in the pursuit of spiritual health and well-being.

In my lifetime I have proven to myself that I cannot think my way into new acting but I can, in fact, act my way into new thinking. And not “acting” in the Marlon Brando sense. More like acting in the Jesus Christ sense. An opportunity to apply some discipline where the default position is anything but.  

The template provides the discipline.

The notion of repentance, this making right past wrongs, the making of amends, it’s right there in the template. (Subsection IV, Line 53.) I seek nothing but the chance to live my life in happiness. Serenity and peace of mind.

Ascetiscm as a tool for personal and spiritual discipline. For Lent, I will effort to “give up” intangibles, like complacency, breaking promises – and one tangible, Facebook. There’s a certain level of trumpet-blowing wrapped up there that troubles me.

The post pimping this blog entry will be my last until Maundy Thursday. I’ll still blog (feel free to join this page, btw.) For the next 40 days, I’ll plow the time I otherwise would have spent on Facebook into serving my wife and son, helping others, giving some alms, running, reading a book.

Things I oughta be doing all the time, anyway.

As I walk north on 5th Avenue toward my hotel on Central Park, with a cross of ashes on my forehead, I find myself grateful for belief, for the template and for the shot at redemption.