So we have a couple of days of Lent behind us and it may be a good time to reflect on how it is going. Are your Lenten practices working. Sometimes you need to make some adjustments and now is a good time to do that. Remember that the point is to return to God, to discipline yourself in preparation for the joyous feast of Easter. Are your Lenten practices leading you to a deeper conversion to live the Christian life?
The Holy Father’s letter for Lent gives us some food for thought and prayer. About fasting, he writes: “by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation – and not just what is in excess – we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31).
About alsmgiving: “The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practice almsgiving – which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life.”
And about prayer: “by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his “words will not pass away” (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him “that no one shall take from you” (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life.”
So, how do your Lenten practices stack up to the goal of conversion, of returning to the Lord? Are you trying to do too much, where an unreasonable amount of prayer, fasting and giving is actually pulling you away from God, making you resentful or anxious? Or are you not doing enough, giving up things that are so easy for you that there is no discipline in the act. Pray about it and make the needed adjustments so that it will be a fruitful Lent: a true journey of conversion that leads to a joyous celebration of Easter and an encounter with the risen Christ.