The Season of Lent
Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, taught that every aspect of Jesus’s life serves as a model for discipleship. Before Jesus began his public ministry he was drawn by the Spirit into the desert for forty days and nights to fast, to pray and to give himself over completely to God. Each year the Church invites us into the desert of the season of Lent to fast, to pray and to give alms (a symbol of our desire to give ourselves over completely to God). Do we dare to imitate the Lord Jesus by going into the desert this Lent?
The call to fast, to pray, and to give alms is an invitation to conversion—to embrace the grace of God that seeks to take root in us and transform us ever more deeply into his holy people.
One fallacy of our Lenten practice as Catholics is the idea that Lenten practices are simply meant to be temporary. I “give up” chocolate for Lent only to indulge evermore deeply in my life as a chocaholic once Easter dawns. Or I will spend more time with the Lord in prayer during Lent, only to return to my normal pattern of relationship with God once the forty days are over. While the specifics of a practice may not always continue after the Lenten season is over, the effects of conversion are meant to live in us. We are called to be made new by the Lord’s love manifested for us in the death and resurrection of Jesus, his Son.
So, this Lent, what is the conversion that the Lord desires for you?
Is it possible that God is inviting you to a radical practice—a new habit of life—that he desires will always be part and parcel of your life?
- Maybe you do not attend mass each and every Sunday and holy day of obligation.
- Is God inviting you to live in thanksgiving by celebrating and receiving the Eucharist each and every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation?
- Maybe you find yourself in a sexual relationship outside of marriage.
- Is God inviting you to live a chaste life by honoring your sexuality as a gift to be shared only in the context of marriage?
- Maybe you find yourself taking illegal drugs.
- Is God inviting you to eradicate illegal drug use from your life and so care for the body that he has bestowed upon you?
- Maybe you view pornography on the internet.
- Is God calling you to stop viewing pornography and to stop treating his sons or daughters as objects or as non-persons?
Is it possible that God is inviting you to take some deeper steps in your journey of discipleship this Lent?
- Maybe you play video games for hours on end each day.
- Is God calling you to fast from gaming and to spend more quality time in studies—the “work” that he has entrusted to you at this point in your life?
- Maybe you eat or drink more than is healthy for you or you seldom exercise.
- Is God calling you to fast from food or drink or to exercise so as to take care of your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit?
- Maybe you spend time in prayer with God, but it lacks something.
- Is God calling you to explore new ways of praying with scripture? Or simply to deep honesty with him in your prayer?
- Maybe you find yourself being critical and judgmental of others.
- Is God calling you to fast from gossip and to speak with compassion instead of malice?
- Maybe you find yourself distracted and unable to concentrate.
- Is God calling you to the quiet in Eucharistic Adoration or Taize Prayer?
- Maybe you find yourself to be very self-absorbed having little room for the cares and concerns of others.
- Is God inviting you to give of yourself through volunteerism?
- Maybe you have more clothes than you could possibly ever wear.
- Is God calling you to donate from your surplus to those who are in need?
- Maybe you find yourself carrying the burden of guilt because of something you have done or failed to do?
- Is God inviting you to the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent?
The Church invites us to enter into the desert each Lent in imitation of Jesus, who fasted for forty days and forty nights and who found in God’s word the strength to resist evil in all its forms and to live in total obedience to his Father’s will. If you are experiencing a call to conversion welling up in your heart, or if these or other “maybes” suggest to you that your life needs to be different then join us on Ash Wednesday at the Chapel of Christ the King to be signed with the ashes that will mark us as men and women who know that each of us in our own way need to “Reform our lives and be faithful to the gospel.”