The real measure of a successful Lent is not whether we can discipline ourselves to make a sacrifice for 40 days, but whether we can re-evaluate our lives and make permanent changes for the better.
I believe that mindfulness is increasing, perhaps as a side effect of the current economic situation and greater environmental awareness. People are analyzing what they really need, and are making a concerted effort to waste less, and in that asceticism, seeking inner peace.
This current mindfulness movement in secular society reminds me of St Bernard's first and second stages of love in On Loving God. People are mindful because it creates a more flattering self image and has direct positive personal implications. The challenge is to move to the third stage: loving God for His sake, or being mindful of others for their sake. I believe that only through a Christian worldview can one be truly mindful.
Today, more than ever, as we may struggle with less, we are called to be aware of those who have less. During Lent, we focused on putting to death our own inclinations towards concupiscence. Perhaps for the rest of the year, we can remain in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need, suffering from the sins of others: the victims of hunger, human trafficking, genocide, and poverty.
Too often, the message about the needy is rejected because we can't support the group presenting awareness of it due to other theological or moral positions they hold. I would be disingenous if I ignored the secular mindfulness movement's anti-child position. However, the orthodoxy of the messenger does not determine the legitimacy of the cause. Personal prayer and reparation, however, give us a way, in good conscience, to be mindful of the atrocities afflicted on fellow members of the human family.
Mindful Mondays call us, as Christians, strengthened from the spiritual benefits of the Sunday Eucharist, to be more aware of the needs of others in thought and deed. Our spiritual ancestors such as St Benedict provide a path to holiness in writings about charity. Perhaps it is also time to embrace another aspect of the Benedictine life: simple fare. Through the deliberate consumption of simple, meatless food one night a week, we can reflect on how much closer that is to what the rest of the world eats. In a spirit of ecumenism, let us consider the Episcopalian grace before meals:
Give us grateful hearts, O Father, for all thy mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Mindful Monday cause: Human Trafficking in Cambodia
Mindful Monday Recipe: Eggplant in Ginger Sauce
Mindful Monday Cookbook of the Week: From A Monastery Kitchen
Diet for a Small Planet Article in America Magazine