Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
It is a blessing that we have these forty days every year to acknowledge that we need a Savior. Then, over the course of these days, we strive to grow and experience His saving grace in those places in our lives that need it the most.
Well, we are now a couple weeks in, so we remember again how difficult this can be! I want to mention a few Lenten pitfalls for us to avoid/climb out of as we continue toward Easter.
¨ Don’t be afraid of the hard things Jesus asks of you: There are many examples of Jesus asking hard things of people that ended up transforming their lives. He asked Peter to drop everything and follow Him. He commanded that if we want to be like our Heavenly Father, then we need to forgive our enemies. He asked the Apostles in the midst of the storm to not be afraid. After overturning their tables and releasing the animals, he told the businessmen in the Temple to stop making His Father’s house a marketplace. Sometimes what Jesus is asking of us for Lent is hard, but it is also the very thing needed. Remember—God is never outdone in generosity.
¨ It is never too late to get back up: How many times should we get back up after falling on our faces? Every single time. This is an important part of Lent and an important overall spiritual lesson. Every time we fall, God’s hand is there to help us back up if we are willing to grab it. There have been studies done on how often we fall when we are learning to walk. The average is 17 times an hour and almost 70 times an hour for those just figuring it out! Lent can be a time we are learning how to walk spiritually. That process will involve falling.
¨ Live the patience you want others to show you: This can be very hard! I have found, though, that remembering the patience with which I have been treated can be a great motivator for trying to do the same for others. St. Philo of Alexandria once said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” How true! We never know fully what someone else is going through.
¨ Don’t let your Lenten penance make you into a penance for those around you: We were given this bit of advice at seminary with the classic example given of the seminarian who gives up coffee for Lent. Turns out he really needs coffee and without it is an absolute bear to everyone else. Our penances shouldn’t be a penance for someone else! This can mean a little course correction about how we are handling our penance or, if needed, the switching of a penance to something else. If you want to exercise humility, ask someone close to you for their opinion of how you are handling Lent!