Published Tuesday, March 5, 2019
GIVE UP GIVING UP FOR LENT
As Lent approaches, I know some of you are planning on giving up sweets, chocolates, smoking, alcohol, cursing, eating out, and even carbs! Giving up things is truly a prayer and a sincere offering to the Lord. I by no means want to deter you from a pious act to deepen your relationship with our Lord. For others of you, you find giving up things for Lent as odd and uncomfortable. I jokingly say that I give up skydiving and water polo. In reality, I try to either give up or take on something that I not only do for Lent but for the rest of my life. So needless to say, I have learned to take baby steps.
Recently, Bishop Jim Hobby stated that we need to prepare ourselves for church. I was instantly brought back to my seminary days in studying St. Ignatius. He was a Roman Catholic priest and theologian who was the founder of the Society of Jesus (a scholarly religious group). Coincidentally, he died four months, 10 days after Thomas Cramer in 1556. One of the most powerful take away points I had from reading his work was about preparing to pray.
St. Ignatius suggests the way to prepare for Lent is by preparing to pray. His questions to us are:
• Have we physically set aside a prayer space for our Lenten journey?
• What time of day will we pray during Lent?
• What are the “exercises” or prayer methods we will be using during Lent?
In our preparatory prayer during the spiritual exercises, we pray for specific graces.
• What is the grace we desire to deepen within us during Lent?
• To deepen our understanding of Jesus’ Passion?
• To walk with Jesus through His Passion and Resurrection?
• To work on overcoming a temptation that keeps us from fully entering into life with Christ?
• To foster a new spiritual practice to ignite or inflame our relationship with Jesus?
In these last few days before Lent begins, I invite us to begin our preparatory prayer. We can turn to Jesus and ask, “What is the grace You desire to deepen within me over these next 40 days?”
If you choose this challenge for Lent, know you will be joining me. Either way, you are in my prayers! Amen!