Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Vanquishing the dragons that stalk us during Lent

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published March 3, 2016

A tiger sleeps over my front door, an alligator rests above the bedroom window—and in the living room a unicorn peers at me somewhat quizzically.

These wooden, hand-painted creatures never say a word, but their company is a comforting reminder of childhood fairy tales in which anything was possible—including fire-breathing dragons that threatened to wreak havoc upon everyone in their path.

Some people debate whether dragons are a fit subject for children because they traditionally represent evil. In fact, the devil is often portrayed as a dragon—and paintings of St. George show him vanquishing one of these beasts.2016 03 03 GB MURRAY Vanquishing the dragons that stalk us during Lent

“If we set out along the road that leads to God … we cannot get far without meeting a dragon,” writes Gerald Vann in “Taming the Restless Heart.”

Vann explains that many myths feature a hero who embarks on a dangerous journey in which he encounters one of these threatening creatures.

“There is something within us that has to be fought and slain before we can find life.”

I must say “amen” to that—because each Lent, I find myself confronting the invisible dragons trying to destroy my peace of heart.

What must be slain within us before we can draw nearer to Christ? What dragon threatens to wreak havoc with our soul? Envy? Lust? Greed? Anger?

For me, the answer—which comes embarrassingly quickly—is that I sometimes say things I later regret, quite deeply. You see, I am blessed—and cursed—with a highly critical nature, and sometimes statements fly out of my mouth before my brain can edit them.

It’s not that I say cruel things to people or yell at them, but I wish I could be less judgmental—and less prone to discuss other people’s flaws—especially when I am so blind to my own.

In “The Hidden Power of Kindness,” Lawrence G. Lovasik reminds us that “The real character of the actions of others depends … on the motives that prompt them, and these … are unknown” to us.

Years ago, when my husband and I were volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity, a volunteer failed to show up at an appointed time to lend a hand to the sisters.

These humble ladies give their hearts and souls to following Jesus by caring for indigent women with AIDS, so my first thought was: “How could someone let these sweet sisters down?”

The sisters, however, never expressed any disappointment, anger or criticism—only concern. And later that day, when we learned that the volunteer had been injured in a car accident, an old saying came to mind: “To know all is to forgive all.”

Lent is a good time to reflect on our relationships with other people, starting with those we dearly love. Vann suggests that now and again we pause and reflect “that God made them and loves them and dwells within them.”

But what about the other people, the ones who yank our chains, make us see red and bug the living daylights out of us?

“They too come from God,” Vann points out, “and He loves them.”

I am guessing that if we fully grasped this truth, we would be less inclined to dwell on other people’s flaws.

Dragons in fairy tales don’t say much, but they threaten to wreak damage by their fire-breathing capabilities. And although they have a reputation for being sneaky and destructive, they can be vanquished by a courageous knight who risks everything to battle them.

During Lent, let’s reflect on the dragons determined to destroy our peace—and then don our imaginary armor and give them a good clobbering.

Artwork by Jef Murray (“The Repentant Dragon”). Lorraine’s email address is