Many people like to observe Lent by giving up something for 40 days, like dessert, or candy, or TV, things like that, and that’s a valid thing to do, particularly if it involves letting go of some addictive behavior. (I always tell people I’m giving up Brussel sprouts for Lent.) But whether or not you have a Lenten practice, I would ask you to consider this.
Maybe this Lent you are being called not to give up something, but to add something to your life: more patience, more understanding, more helping, more applying myself to my tasks, more prayer and reflection. Or to put it another way, what is God inviting me to change about myself this Lent? Can I listen to the voice of God in my deepest heart and let God’s word guide me through these coming days, helping me to be faithful and loving, open to the graces God wants to give me?
I don’t think Lent, at its deepest level, is about giving up things. I think it’s about receiving what God wants to give us. It’s about metanoia, the Greek word for conversion, literally meaning a change of heart, a change in the way we look at the world and our role in the world, conforming our heart to the heart of Christ. That is truly worthy of our Lenten practice.
So let’s pray for each other during this season of Lent. May it be a time of personal growth and a more active practice of our Christian virtues for each one of us, and may we approach the celebration of Easter next month having opened ourselves over these coming weeks to the gifts God holds out to us.
“Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” (Joel 2:13)