I'm reusing this piece I wrote for another blog, The Feminine Gift.
We're approaching Holy Week (where did the time go?) and I find myself reflecting on Lent: where I am at, what God has been doing with me, the state of my Lenten practices, and so on. A Lenten check-up of sorts.
Each Lent has it's own tenor, it's own flavour. Some years I feel God is calling me to a very sacrificial six weeks with almost monastic abstention from all but basic foods; some years it is strict avoidance of secular entertainments: novels, films, television, music; sometimes it is the challenge to greatly increase the time spent in prayer, more frequent attendance at Mass, making holy hours in Adoration, praying the Stations of the Cross.
My plan this year (please note the language I used: "my" plan) was to fast from all treats (oh, how I love chocolate!), go to daily Mass at least once during the week as well Adoration at least once... and several other 'add-ons' I came up with in the early days after Ash Wednesday. This was partly in response to the last two Lenten seasons - the first after my father's death - which were rather gentle compared to my previous experiences. The focus lately had been to 'be'... to be present to others, be present in the moment, allow others to be, and so on. There was little emphasis placed on fasting from goodies, beyond the meatless Friday rule. There were no spiritual gymnastics beyond my standard daily devotions.
I considered those two years to be God taking it easy on me, and I determined that the time had come to saddle-up once more and get back to serious Lenten business (that could also be read as 'busyness'). It seems there was a different Divine plan.
Without my being aware of what was happening, circumstances arose to prevent me from following through with my prescribed regimen. Each week I would tell myself, "It's ok, I can try again next week." Until I finally clued in and realized that God was leading me in a different direction, deepening a work He began months ago, tying in each of the three branches of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
His Lenten journey for me is less complex than my own was. There is less emphasis on checking off a to-do list. What I find interesting about these most recent Lenten seasons is that they have less of the appearance of sacrifice, while in fact there is greater sacrifice. There is seemingly less challenge, less effort, less work, and yet it requires more daily commitment from me.
I wonder if this is a common experience. Have any of you found that your preparation for Easter has become quieter, deeper, more about the 'being' than the 'doing'? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
May God bless us with the grace to stand at the Cross of Christ with Our Lady, and so share in her joy at the Resurrection.