We are half way through Lent. How’s it going for you? Do you still have the zeal for doing better this Lent than you did last year? How are those Lenten sacrifices and extra works going? If you’re like me, you might have gone into Lent planning to make this the best Lent ever, hoping to be more disciplined in your spiritual life than you have ever been before. You found just the right prayers to pray, just the right spiritual exercise to do and just the right sacrifice to make. This year is the year I become a saint. I ask you again, how’s it going?
Life in our home has changed dramatically. We are down to one child left at home and she is planning to be married in a month. I thought, surely, I could be spiritually disciplined this year. But with wedding planning and now this unusual time in our Church with our Holy Father resigning, how is a girl supposed to stay focused?
The Gospel reading for Friday of the third week of Lent reminds us what it is we are truly supposed to be doing. Not just during Lent, but every day of our lives. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He answers, “The Lord thy God is one God. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these,” (Mark 12:30-31). Loving God above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves is what Lent is all about. So while we attempt to do the extra prayers, fasting and penance, and either do them half-heartedly or some days not at all, God sees we are trying to put Him first. And when those things like wedding preparations or even dinner, laundry, homework, etc. seem to get in the way of our Lenten devotions, realize you are loving your neighbor within the vocation in which God called you to serve Him.
A really good thing about God is He never gives up on us even when we give up on ourselves. He lets us start over. So do just that. Right here in the middle of Lent, start over. The Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Lent is the story of the Prodigal Son. How often do we find ourselves in the place of the Prodigal Son, needing desperately to return to the Father. We can do just that. Take a break this weekend and treat yourself and your family to the Sacrament of Confession. Then go out for an ice-cream cone to celebrate clean souls. (You may have to wait until Sunday for the ice-cream cone if you gave up sweets.) Then start your Lenten goals all over again.
There are a lot of new things in our Church right now; an empty Bishop’s seat in Rome, a retired pope praying fervently for the Church, a Conclave beginning on Tuesday for the selection of a new Holy Father. Just as the Church starts fresh with a new Pontiff every once in a while, we too can start anew with God’s grace knowing that, again, just as the Church continues on with God’s protection and love, we too will continue on with His protection and love. May the rest of you Lenten season be blessed!
Copyright 2013 Diane Schwind