Lent reminds us to search out where our real commitment lies, to continue pushing up against the horizons of our awareness, and to look beneath the surface. It calls us to put our preconceived notions of the truth and our prepackaged ideas of the good aside. Lent asks us to be disciplined enough to let go of our outmoded ideas and let the Spirit renew us. In the past we considered penance a matter of self-abnegation and the denial of a particular enjoyment. Now, we can view it as a turning back toward God to receive the insights for a renewal of the focus of our lives and to awaken our compassion.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
Psalm 51: 14-17
Are there any areas in your life that need a new focus? In your prayer turn to God with an open mind and a receptive heart.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
But if you seek your God, you will find God if you look with all your heart and with all your soul.
Lent invites us to conversion, to a change in mindset, so that life’s truth and beauty may be found not so much in possessing as in giving, not so much in accumulating as in sowing and sharing goodness.
If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.
Another proof of the turning toward Christ will be found in a real change of life. If someone does not live differently from before, both at home and abroad, this repentance needs to be repented of and this conversion is a fiction.
All mature religion is somehow talking about finding your God self, your Christ self, your Buddha self, your Sufi dance. And when it happens, you know it was not a “change” after all, but a wondrous discovery and constant rediscovery of what was always true anyway.
We all know that life is lived in seasons. We go through periods of time when something in us must die so that something new can be born. We must grieve what has marred our past so that we can give birth to what is yet to come, the “awe” that is unfolding. Lent reminds us of these past seasons — that for every resurrection there is a death, and for every death a resurrection.
Joanne Fogarty, OSF
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Things do not change; we change.
Henry David Thoreau
I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is we must change if they are to get better.
Georeg C. Lichtenberg