I am not a dedicated runner, so when I decided to run my first 5K last fall, I knew that I needed a plan. By starting small and gradually increasing the length of my runs, I worked to make my goal a reality. In September, as I slowly crossed the finish line, I smiled as I realized my achievement. While 3.1 miles may not seem like much to some people, it was for me. My training plan — and the grace of God — got me there, and I was grateful.
As Lent draws near, many Catholics put together routines for how they will embark on the Lenten journey. Some individuals may create elaborate charts on the wall or calendar, others may put a simple list in the phone, and other people may just keep a small Lenten plan in their head. Regardless of what form they take, these lists and charts create frameworks that we can follow in the long weeks of the season so that we keep our spiritual lives on track.
As we compile our Lenten plans, a question looms before us: What will we include in our regime for the season?
There have been some years when I’ve picked a certain penance or practice that was popular or sounded interesting, without thinking about whether it would actually be a good penance for me to do.
However, as I look towards Lent this year, I’ve found myself thinking about why we do these penances and devotions. What is our plan helping us work towards; what is our end goal for Lent? Is it to give ourselves a pat on the back because we went weeks without chocolate or hot showers — or is it to grow closer to our Crucified Lord?
Whatever our Lenten plans are, they must help us reach this goal. We are all unique and have different spiritual journeys. While there are certainly practices every person can benefit from, we shouldn’t fall into the mindset that a Lenten Plan needs to be one-size-fits-all. Instead of arbitrarily picking a popular penance or devotion, what methods in particular could help each of us us on the path of holiness?
In the remaining days that lead up to the Lenten season, let’s take time to pray about our specific goals this Lent, so that our plans will reflect this mission.
Copyright AnneMarie Miller 2018