3/28/2018 1 Comment
#WorthRevisit A look back at Lent 2016 with Updates from 2018
Holy Week is here … Lent will soon be done
But am I any different than when it all began over 40 days ago?
That was my musing this morning. Did my Lenten sacrifices – prayers, almsgiving, and fasting – transform me? Did they prepare me for the coming Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday)? Most importantly have the readied my heart to rise again with Jesus on Easter — a new creation in Christ?
Lent and the expectation of the coming of Spring, maybe because I live in a seasonal location, have always co-existed in my heart. Lent starts often in the harshness of winter – cold, long, dark nights. Easter arrives after daylight savings and (usually) the last snow fall. Flowers and trees are budding, maybe even flowering, and there is an emerging from the cocoon like feel to the world.
But have I changed? Has this time of no television, extra prayer and attention to participating in the Sacraments, awoken something in my heart. What will my spiritual practices look like going forward?
A Look back at Lent have I changed at all??
Three Quick Lenten Takeaways (from Lent 2016 & 2018)
Living without television from Monday through Saturday afternoon is wonderful. Sure, it wasn’t baseball season yet, which made leaving it off every night much easier. However, the benefits of being free from what I call the ‘great time sucker upper’ was significant enough to motivate me to leave it off much more often then before Lent began. I do not need to watch every game – I will be more selective. That, I suppose, was the real lesson for me – to be more selective with how I spend the precious time allotted to me here on earth. My time should always be heavenly focused, even my leisure while allowed and blessed by God, should be mindfully spent and not squandered. LENT 2018 UPDATE: Once again I attempted to leave television behind for Lent. I was far more successful in 2016, than I was in 2018. Yet, I did see the enormous blessings in leaving it off even 3 or 4 nights a week. I pray, that this habit of unplugging and giving that time to God will continue well beyond these 40 days of Lent.
There is always room to do more. When Lent began and I contemplated how I would fit in additional charity; I struggled. I looked at my life and thought I AM already maxed out! How could I possible add another activity or donation. However, as I prayed and dug a little deeper into my schedule and my finances, I realized that there is always something more we have and can offer. God is never outdone in His generosity. He has proved this again and again, not only during Lent but throughout my whole life, that when I draw closer to Him, when I offer Him my first fruits and from my own poverty, I am never left depleted. His grace, love and mercy pour out and forth; instead of being empty, in the end I come away absolutely overflowing! THE LENTEN 2018 UPDATE : Volunteering and giving of my time is still a struggle. While we donate money, giving of my time has always been incredibly difficult. Partly because I am not sure where or how to serve, and partly because I am too protective of my time. 2016 was a struggle to find the financial means to give, and gratefully the Lord is truly being generous in mending that aspect of our lives. Perhaps 2018, will be a time for me to repay the gift of my life with finding more time to serve. Jesus gave us that great model, “what I have done for you, you must do for others.”
Prayer comes in many forms and is way easier than I make it. As I struggled to carve out dedicated prayer time each and every day, I discovered St. Paul’s words, “Pray without ceasing”. While sitting with the Lord in quiet contemplation is a beautiful thing, and something we should seek and enjoy when we can, it is not the only way to connect with Him. My laundry, commute and exercise can all be times of conversation with God. My time on social media can be filled with prayer if I keep the Spirit at the forefront of my thoughts – reading with the eyes of God – offering prayers for people and situations as I scroll through my newsfeed. My job can be prayer as I sacrifice for my family, bear wrongdoings patiently, and rejoice in the gifts God has blessed me with to do the work before me. LENTEN 2018 UPDATE: Praise God, I feel good about this aspect of Lent and my life. I managed every single morning to put prayer first! I kept my expectations low with just 3 small prayer books: Day by Day by Susan Tassone (OSV) used to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory which is already part of my daily time in prayer), Sacred Reading for Lent 2018 (Ave Maria Press); and a fabulous new book from a dear friend, Alexis Walkenstein, available April 1st, Ex Libris: Fulton J. Sheen (Pauline Books and Media). In addition, I also had the immense pleasure of leading another WINE: Women in the New Evangelization Lenten Book Club. We read Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion Through the Eyes of Women – truly a masterpiece for Lent (or anytime really).
Your Turn: What are Your Takeaways from Lent?