A few years after having studied with him I went up to my philosophy professor (RIP) and said, “You know, I hated studying philosophy but now I see how useful it is and wish I had taken it more seriously.”
He got a weary but sympathetic look on his face and said, “I know. The problem with philosophy is that it has a long fuse.” By this he meant that you have to learn a lot of philosophy and live with it for a while before there is any kind of pay off. Or, as the sign on my friend’s barn door says more simply, “Hard work eventually pays off. Laziness pays off now.”
That is one of the insidious problems with good and evil. Evil most often starts off at least feeling like a good but does its damage later, while doing good (like getting up early this morning in the what I hope is the last winter storm to go to the gym to work out) can start off feeling like a trial but then pays off. Some of what lent tries to do is get us past that initial desire to enjoy sin and get over the initial hump of goodness in order to enjoy its benefits. That is what God want for you.
Having the discipline to turn off the T.V. or computer and go to bed earlier so that you can be fresh in the morning to meet your day’s obligations is a good thing. God wants you, as far as is possible, to have enough sleep.
Cutting down on your food intake if you need to so that you don’t feel bloated later is a good thing and what God wants for you.
Getting off of the couch and doing some exercise so that you feel stronger later and look better is not a selfish thing but treating the temple of the Holy Spirit the way it should be treated and is part of God’s plan for you.
Trying to make peace with others so that life is more enjoyable is part of God’s plan for you. Having your sins forgiven so that you have a clear conscience is in his desire for you. Expanding your learning to open you up to the wonders of creation is his gift waiting for you to open. Even though it is not supposed to be the point, he gives you consolations when you work charitably for others because he wants you to know his love. Taking some time on your own to pray quietly every day is not forsaking other duties but is as necessary as taking time to eat and sleep and is His desire for you. Forgoing a good in the Lenten season is so that you might have a stronger will, greater discipline, more control and more freedom. All these are His gifts and wishes for you.
Now get out there and RUMBLE!