February 15, 2018 by eneubauer
Today marks the Sunday before Lent begins and I feel a sense of dread. To be completely honest, I have not had a successful Lenten journey in a few years. It’s not that I have failed to observe Lent, but I have been unable to keep it in its fullness. It has been challenging to allow God to be at the center of this 40-day journey and disrupt my comfortable life.
See, Lent is the season which calls the Christian to prepare for Easter. Over a 40-day period, we have the opportunity to reclaim time and meditate on Christ’s work – particularly his death, burial, and resurrection. Christ’s work and our acceptance of it paved the way for humanity to be reconciled to God. Hence, Lent’s purpose is to draw us into a more intentional relationship with Jesus. To assist us the Church encourages all Christians to practice these spiritual disciplines – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Long before I became Catholic, I was observing Lent, especially the practice of prayer and fasting. I have long desired to return to a much more contemplative Lent, using the spiritual disciplines to assist me in disconnecting from the distractions of life. As David Mills puts it in his recent article, Why and how to make this Lent a season of “death-cleaning,” “very few of us are so radical, but we want to be more radical than we are.” In short, we want the fruit of the spiritual disciplines without actually having to apply them a to our lives.
Living in an age ruled by secularism, materialism, and consumerism even the observance of Lent, as it was intended, has become a radical idea. In the west, we are taught to be the captain of our own ship and make life as comfortable as possible. Therefore, the Christian who intends to participate in and experience Lent can be easily distracted and drawn into habits that keep our mind and body too busy for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We intend to participate in Lent but never take the action steps necessary to cultivate a deeper relationship with Jesus. The most challenging chasm to cross is between intention and action.
So what separates the past from this present year. This year I need Lent. I have tried to captain my ship and haven’t made it to the intended port. Honestly, there are places I want to go and things I want to do in 2018 that require more of me than I currently have to give. I need a new connection with God and space to strengthen all aspects of life. I want to be whole (fit) – mental, physical, and spiritual.
Let’s take this journey this together: My Lenten Recipe
- Make a decision (today) to fully participate in Lent
- Prepare your heart by reviewing your baptismal promises
- Practice the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving
Finally, I am reminded that we participate, whole-heartedly, in this season because of the gravity and meaning behind our Lords work on the cross. Simply stated, In Christ, God created a pathway into which we can attain an authentic relationship with our Creator. This relationship is a sign of what is to come – eternal life.