If you’re anything like me, you haven’t yet given an honest day’s wage of thought as to how you are going to spend these next 40 days of Lent. What is the true purpose of this liturgical season anyway? If we follow the guidelines of no “meats and sweets” do we pass the Christian test for another year? Or—what if, just maybe Lent exists to wake up our weary souls and stretch us beyond our very own complacent selves?
There are so many questions about “why we do what we do” to enter into this journey. Why 40 days? Why no meat? Why spiritual discipline? Why do we have to do penance and what does that even mean? I think our Church is good at listing the rules for our behavior, but it falls short in educating people as to the “why” of the rituals. I don’t know about you, but I can better enter into an event or activity if I know the “whys and ways” as well as the rules and rubrics.
Pondering these sorts of questions and giving effort to better understand the meaning behind the actions will help guide the choices we make and the behaviors we adopt during the next 40 days. We live in a time where information is at our fingertips. Even my little niece tells me to “just Google it” when a question arises. There are various online resources for education to better understand Lent as well as to sustain our daily prayer and reflection. Here are a few links that can get you started:
Lent is that sacred time when we recall Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. It’s important for us to step out of the ordinary routine of our daily lives so to enter more fully the desert journey with Christ and prayerfully reflect on his life’s reality. No one did that better than St Francis himself. There is a story that relates how a brother watched the saint in prayer and heard him pray the words, “Who are you, Lord my God, and who am I?” These two questions are so fundamental to our life as Christians and the faith we profess.
So, as an act of Lenten penance, consider meditating on the sacrifices of Christ. Allow those reflections to guide your own actions, determine what you might abstain from and help you seek out those who are most in need of the gifts and talents you have to share. Lent is not just about giving up, but the giving of ourselves which is at the heart of this journey. People, make prayer part of your daily routine, take time to sit before your God of love, and ask the fundamental question: “Who are you, Lord My God, and who am I?”
This Lent I pray that you might courageously walk with Christ to the foot of the cross and may the journey transform your heart, renew your spirit, and refresh your soul.