I know, Lent is still a little more than a month away. Don’t get me wrong, Ordinary Time is definitely important and usually anything but ordinary, but I’m considering a new approach to Lent this year that I wanted to share. A few weeks ago, I posted on my own blog about choosing a word or theme for the new year, rather than making resolutions. I am taking that same concept and want to offer it as a new way to approach Lent.
We all know Lent is coming. We usually remember that means a time for fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. How many of us take dedicated time to discern what we are going to “give up” or “do more of?” I’ll be completely honest here: Usually I finalize my Lenten plans on or slightly before Ash Wednesday. And typically, they are things that I know are going to be good for me, but I haven’t given them a whole lot of thought. It’s the low-hanging fruit — say a Rosary a day, give up snacks between meals, read a Psalm every day, give $5 extra at Mass, and so on. All good things, but maybe not the most challenging or even the most personal for my spiritual life.
Our Lenten observances are supposed to help us draw closer to God, to deepen our relationship with Him and strengthen our resolve against sin and temptation. These are deeply personal pieces of who we are and they deserve deeply personal responses. Maybe saying a Rosary a day is something I need to do to strengthen my resolve against sin, but I need to have spent time in prayer over this so that I know why I’m doing what I’m doing. Arbitrarily saying a rosary, though still full of grace and capable of working goodness in our lives, is less potent than the one said with conviction and purpose toward a larger goal.
So, I offer you this. Spend the next few weeks looking back at the last few months. Where do you see yourself needing to grow? Where has your heart been hardened? What is God calling you towards as spring approaches? Ask Him to give you the courage to look under the rocks and into the dark places of your heart. Let His light shine to reveal how you can submit yourself more fully to His plan and purpose. As you ponder these things, is there a word that stands out that you could use to inspire your Lenten observances? Or, if a single word seems too specific, perhaps a short Scripture passage could be useful in discerning how to best journey through Lent. Here are a few Lenten classics to get you started:
- A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. (Psalm 51:12)
Yet even now—oracle of the LORD—return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God (Joel 2:12-13a)
- “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
For more Scripture inspiration, consider looking ahead to the Sunday readings in Lent.
Thought Lent is still on the horizon, reflecting on its purpose for your life will be time well spent this February. Let’s make this the best Lent yet!
Copyright 2019 Kate Taliaferro