Lent is upon us. It’s a time of prayer and increased awareness of Jesus and the suffering he endured in order that we all might be saved. Some people think of it as a dreary, sad time. I can see how some people might feel that way. After all, it’s more serious at church on Sunday (no “Alleulias” are sung), people are fasting and not eating meat on Fridays, and giving up things they usually enjoy. A good friend of mine gave up all sweets, as she does every year. That would be very difficult for me, seeing as I love, love, love anything with sugar! Another friend of mine decided to make a greater effort to be nicer to the people she loves, and to try not to lose her temper so easily.
Lent is a time for simpler things, and about making ourselves better. Some of you may have soup suppers at your parish, which consist of a simple meal of soup and bread. Maybe you prepare simpler meals on Fridays, meatless dinners without all of the extra trimmings. Others decide to keep it simple by going out of their way to do things for other people, things they might not normally do. Maybe some of you make the effort to go to Mass more often. Definitely, praying more is a simple but wonderful thing we can do during Lent to make us more aware of Jesus.
A funny thing happens when we get closer to God. St. Therese was right when she said that the nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes. When you love God with your whole heart and strive to make Him a part of your life in all things, all of the time, you become simpler, more childlike. St. Therese always said that she wished to be little, like a child, simpler. She said that being childlike is the way to get to Heaven. What does it mean to be “childlike”? Well, children are trusting. They trust that Mom and Dad love them and will take care of all of their needs. Both children and adults can also be that trusting with God, our Father. We can trust that He will take care of all of our needs, even if things look bad and we don’t exactly feel that God is near. He is, and He wants you to put simple trust in Him for everything.
Children also love unconditionally. Think of a baby who needs her mother to meet every need of hers. She loves her mother no matter what; even if Mom forgets to change her diaper (oops!) or lets her cry a bit too long in her crib (time to nap!). When the wet diaper is changed or Mom comes in to bring her comfort, the baby is happy to see her. She loves her even though Mom goofed up or didn’t come running in. After all, it’s still Mommy, and the baby loves her no matter what. We should love God in that way, no matter what. I have friends who have been through very hard times, and you know what? They love God even more today. They love him unconditionally and He loves us in the same way.
I know most of the readers of my book, Olivia and the Little Way are children. St. Therese always wants us to stay that way, using her Little Way to do so. Sure, we all grow up physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that is the way it is supposed to be. But when it comes to God, especially during Lent, Therese reminds us to be like little children. The closer you get to Him, you will be simpler. Life will be less complicated because you won’t let little things disturb you. You will love God like a trusting child, letting Him take the lead in your life. “The nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes.”
How simple — how little — can you be this Lenten season?
Copyright 2010 Nancy Carabio Belanger