On Having a Fruitful Lent
February 22, 2023
Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, is an extremely practical time of year. It is our great opportunity to give ourselves a thorough spiritual exam, toss out some of the junk that we have collected within us and develop new spiritual discipline. Our human nature tends to pull us off course over time. Here are some ways to make the most of this gift God is giving us by having a personal plan of spiritual growth for Lent. This will involve something negative and something positive.
Something we give up: We can commit ourselves to give up something or even a number of things. Sacrifices like these will strengthen us to control our passions and sinful inclinations and make other sacrifices for God when we are called upon to do so. A few suggestions: some kind of media fast, a favorite food, alcohol, coffee or sweets for starters. What is my fundamental weakness or sin? I should take aim at this during Lent. This is the best kind of fasting.
Something we add in: This means doing something we would not normally do on a regular basis: daily scripture time; Mass during the week; watching EWTN; saying a daily rosary; a commitment to a regular act of kindness or to say only up-building things to others (and if I blow it I have to ask forgiveness); attending one of the Lenten Bible studies at church and/or our mission; Fr. Dave Pivonka’s Bible in a Year podcast (he was a previous mission speaker here as well). The possibilities are endless.
Lent is one of the best chances we will ever have to really examine our lives. Do a real examination of your conscience this Lent: not just sins of commission, but sins of omission: Do I help the poor somehow? Am I a generous person? Must I always have my own way? How do I act when things don’t go according to plan? What place does God have in my life? How do I really treat my neighbor? (it may be somewhat different than you imagine). Have I ever brought any food for the poor, for example?
Perhaps this Lent, this year, this very day, in fact, will be a kind of beachhead, which will lead to an entirely new way of life. Without such a proactive approach to Lent, the currents of life are likely to carry you where you really don’t want to end up. Lent may be God’s way of calling you to a new relationship with him, to begin to see your life in new ways, to begin to break an old pattern of sin or addiction or way of acting that is ultimately self-destructive to my relationship with God, others, and to myself.
The road ahead, through Easter and beyond, begins now, during Lent.