As the Lenten season nears my mind focuses on how to draw myself into this reflective and prayerful time. Traditionally, it means remembering to increase attendance at Mass, confession, meatless Fridays and, of course, the obligatory sacrifice: giving something up.
Last year I flipped my mindset of giving something up to giving time to something instead. I like most people have such a busy life and time management is crucial to getting stuff done. So this year in advance of the season I made a plan to spend time in Adoration reflecting on the question “Lord, what should I give my time to this Lent?”
Each year the Holy Spirit inspires me to do something different to help me explore new prayer practices or cultivate a virtue I struggle with. This is why technology really helps me to tap into spiritual resources, to help me give time to spiritual practices consistently.
In 2019 my plan of downloading the Hallow app to participate in their #Pray40Challenge helped me to explore a different prayer practice daily. Each week I practiced Lectio Divina, Taize, Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross. I remember sitting in a busy airport around 3 PM the first Friday of Lent last year. Fridays were designated for the Stations of the Cross on the app. On the twelfth station, the app directs you to kneel — and being surrounded by thousands in a busy airport — I just couldn’t do it! I felt so guilty that the next week I was sure to schedule a prayer time where I could be somewhere to kneel.
In 2018 I subscribed to Dynamic Catholic’s “Best Lent Ever” series. This video-driven focused reflection also had a component that allowed you to respond to a prompted question and those following responded in positive and uplifting ways to the posted responses. In 2017 our parish offered the LinC small group experience. It afforded me the opportunity to meet once per week with a group of faith-filled women, reflect on a biblical theme, discuss our views, and pray with and for one another. The bond we formed was so powerful we continue to meet weekly!
When I shared with my pastor that I’d be spending time in Adoration, he shared a new way for me to focus. He said, “Instead of trying to direct the Holy Spirit with a question, just focus on one word.” This was so hard! My mind kept wanting to wander from the single word of Lent. Staring at the very center of the Holy Eucharist enclosed in glass with the reflection of light, gave it the appearance of glowing — so powerful! However, quieting my mind in the silence of this holy space was so problematic. A feeling of quiet desperation poured over me, clouding my mind with expectations of what God will call me to do. Then I heard the song “Here I Am, Lord” in my head …
The melody finally quieted the noise in my head and the voice whispered “Silence” over and over again. What did that mean? I was sitting in silence. The voice whispered, “Listen” over and over again. Now, that I get! I really need to work on listening more. I am a talker — big time — and this would be a wonderful sacrifice for me to exercise listening more than speaking. Then the voice whispered, “Write” over and over again. I received a Lenten journal from Dynamic Catholic, and so that made sense too.
The more I reflected on “silence” the clearer it became to me that the Lord was calling me to spend more time in Eucharistic Adoration and make time in other ways to soak in silence. Then the bells began to toll at the top of the hour; to my surprise, I’d been sitting there for nearly an hour.
Now my personal plan for growing closer to Christ is set for this Lent! Everyone’s Lenten journey is different, and many of my friends take a break from social media during Lent, but I find lots of inspiration in my social media feed. One of my favorite things to do is the Busted Halo Instagram Challenge (this year, using the hashtag #BHLent2020). Finding the perfect picture to represent the word or phrase of the day is so fun.
Most parishes offer more Masses, Fish Fridays, speaker series, Stations of the Cross, retreats, and other cultural practices specific to your area or congregation. Whatever you choose to do, let this beautiful season open your heart, mind, and soul to Christ in new ways.
Copyright 2020 Sherry Hayes-Peirce