Lent begins one week from today. In the next few days, many Catholics will set Lenten goals and resolutions, things to ‘give up’ or extra practices to take on. But what are we preparing for, and why?
The 40 days of Lent give us the opportunity to form new habits and break old ones. “Lent is a great opportunity for us to refocus our spiritual life, take on some practices that will help us grow in our spiritual life and especially to be prepared to celebrate as fully as possible the joy of the Resurrection at Easter. So Lent is a time of honest self-reflection and recognizing the places in our own life in which we know that we need to grow and then taking on some practices that are going to help us to grow in those particular areas in our life,” said Fr. Tom Wilson, regular contributor to The Inner Life® on Relevant Radio®.
Lent can also help us to put things into perspective. “Everything we do during Lent should be geared to getting closer to a deeper relationship with the Lord. Really recognizing, I think, that we live in a world in which we are separated from heaven and we look forward to that gift of heaven,” explained Fr. Wilson. “And the practices that we do should help realign our focus into what is beyond. And to recognize that the things of the world that we often put an awful lot of emphasis on and think that somehow they’re going to lift us up to the pinnacle, really don’t. And we are looking forward to something that’s far greater than any material thing … any sort of human satisfaction that we might have on earth and actually setting those aside helps us to realize more fully what awaits us at the end.”
Lent should challenge us to dig deeper and grow in faith, virtue, and self-discipline. “We are reminded constantly by Jesus in the Scriptures that as his disciples, as his followers we are called to carry our crosses. Carrying our crosses is not an easy thing and it’s that spiritual reality that we put a lot of emphasis on in Lent as we walk with Jesus in the desert. It is supposed to be a time of great challenge but also of great growth.”
How will you grow this Lent? There are many ways that you can train your mind, body, and soul to yearn for God rather than the things of earth. If you’re having a difficult time deciding how to observe the season, sit quietly in prayer and ask the Lord to reveal to you some areas of weakness where you might need to focus extra attention. Challenge yourself, but set realistic goals. As with any other changes, you should start small and take reasonable steps towards a deeper faith life.
If you are looking for another way to grow in knowledge of your Catholic Faith and the Holy Mass, sign up for Father Rocky’s Lenten Lessons on the Mass, free daily emails featuring short reflections on different parts of the Mass. You’re sure to learn something new and be able to enter more fully into this beautiful sacrament.
Sign up for the 40 Lenten Lessons on the Mass here.