The season of Lent offers a powerful opportunity for conversion, spiritual growth, and developing our relationships with the Lord and one another. However, I also know that this season has a way of sneaking up on us. Life moves fast, and we can get caught up in any number of tasks – missing the necessary preparation and perspective to get the most out of these 40 Days.
As a guide, I suggest starting with the “Fruits of the Spirit” that St. Paul writes about in his letter to the Galatians (5:22-23). They are:
First, do we see these in our lives? Are there people, situations, interactions, locations (home, work, school, community) where we see consistent evidence of their presence? If so, then how can we help them flourish and grow? How can we create more opportunities to allow the Spirit to work in our lives?
Second, are these absent in our lives? Or worse, are their opposites present? Is hatred, despair, turmoil, and the like alive in our hearts? If so, how can we make the necessary changes to allow the Spirit into our lives?
Now here’s how this gets practical. It is often customary during Lent to “do” something or “give up” something for these 40 days. How about this…
- “Do” something that fosters the Fruits of the Spirit in my life.
- “Give up” something that is in conflict with the Fruits of the Spirit.
Where do we look? Try this for starters…
- WHAT we do – the Activity
- WHO we do it with – the People
- WHERE we do it – the Location
“Doing” can include any number of things:
- Helping a neighbor, family member or friend – in a spirit of kindness and gentleness
- Drawing near to people who are spiritually good – who make us more loving and peaceful
- Spending time on activities that help us use God’s talents in a good and holy way
- Concentrating our efforts on opportunities where we know that God is present
- Being in locations and situations that foster a strong and healthy life
“Giving up” can look like this:
- Is there anything destructive, harmful, unholy, or evil that needs to be removed?
- Are there people who are leading us to harm or destruction?
- Are there locations, situations, or circumstances that are unholy for us?
Using the “Fruits of the Spirit” as a measurement, we can quickly reveal the pattern of our lives. If it is spiritually fruitful, then we can strengthen this. If it is spiritually destructive, then perhaps this season of Lent gives us an opportunity to give it up and start directing our lives in better ways.
Furthermore, Lent has classic opportunities for Study, Prayer, and Service:
Study: Scripture, the Catechism, a Devotional, Spiritual Reading
Prayer: Mass, Confession, Rosary, Scripture, Devotions, Stations of the Cross
Service: at home, the neighborhood, the community, the Church
God keeps inviting, keeps forgiving, and keeps extending grace and mercy to all who seek it. Now is the time to get ready for a powerful Lent – where we turn to Jesus and allow His grace to transform our hearts. Give serious thought to what you can do to make this season special, and open your to heart to Jesus Christ.
What will you do? What will you give up? Make it a great Lent!
Note: This post was originally published on February 26, 2014.