It’s a little hard to believe, but we are a mere three days from the beginning of Lent! I feel somewhat fortunate that I’ve already begun thinking about it; in previous years, Ash Wednesday has completely caught me off guard.
Each year, I want to observe Lent better than I did before, and this year is no exception. I’ve been thinking about how I wish to observe this season, how I wish to practice sacrifice and discipline, self-denial and self-giving. I don’t want to be lax. I don’t want to approach Easter with the least regret that I could have observed Lent more faithfully and deeply. But each year has been better–this will be might eighth Lent since returning to the Church–and each year I have become more reacclimated to the rigors of this season. I’m no longer quite the fledgling I was. I feel this year will be very edifying.
One simple thing that I have found helpful and motivating is Father Jonathan Morris’s Lent Challenge, “A 46-day plan for spiritual growth in mind, body, and soul.” For each of those three areas, mind, body, and soul, he encourages that we decide on one thing to give up and one thing to do. He will share daily messages of encouragement via Twitter and Facebook.
I also found this quotation from Pope Benedict XIV in 1741:
The observance of Lent is the very badge of Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should men grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.
This quotation speaks powerfully to me; as I’ve mentioned before, I respond to nothing more readily than to a call to arms. I am best motivated to conduct my life well when I am reminded that how I conduct my life affects the world around me–when I remember that it’s not just about me. It’s about what, and Whom, I stand for. More than any other time of year, it is about carrying the Cross and following Christ toward Calvary, trembling in every footstep. Not that we are not always called to do this, but this special season exists for our benefit, to focus us and make us stronger, to amend our lives. It’s a special journey, a special march, a special campaign.
I pray that I might enter into this season with deep devotion and dedication, together with all Catholics. Let us pray for each other!