It is that time again. Ash Wednesday is in a few days and Lent has snuck up on us again. I don’t know about you, but I never really seemed to be prepared for Lent. What I am going to give up or do extra is always a game-time decision, one that is rushed and not thought through very well. Each year I try to get a little better at being prepared and planning what I feel the Lord wants my Lent to look like. It begins with a simple question that I would like to propose to you all: What is going to make Lent this year different than last year? A different perspective or outlook is always the case for me, so if you don’t mind, here is what I am thinking for Lent 2008.
As young people (or Catholics for that matter), there is always one common theme when it comes to thinking about how we need to live our lives. The one thing that is holding us back is the ever popular three letter word: SIN. Our nature doesn’t help us out and living in the culture, we find ourselves in is not beneficial in leading us to live the virtuous life. SIN is all around us and it is not surprising that we all are sinners.
Lent is often a time when we are encouraged to name and face the sin in our lives. By doing so, maybe we continue the journey of trying to become holy and perfect like our Lord. (Anybody there yet?) While it might not be a surprise, I want to go a little deeper in this conversation about Lent, SIN, and all the rest. And to your relief I am not here to preach about sin, I will keep that topic for another day.
Looking at the sin in our lives is important and very necessary. At the same time, there is another place we need to pay attention to that sin often covers up. This is a place in our hearts, a place where there is a void and a longing for something more.
This place deep inside our hearts is the place that hopes for true beauty and love, but aches when it is never sought or found in this world. This place in our hearts moves us to recognize truth when it is found, and leads us to get a tiny glimpse of what we were made for. This place deep inside of our hearts is a place where we find our true selves and experience a love that transforms our very lives. If you have experienced that place you know exactly what I am talking about.
In our very human nature, this place is a void that often is unfilled or covered up. So many young people have never experienced this place in their heart because they have bought into another imitation of truth and happiness that seems to provide the same desires. While on the outside it might look that way, I have been part of so many experiences in my life to know that there is a better way. I see the empty smiles on so many faces that are crying out for more.
The Christian life is about turning away from sin, but it is also about opening our hearts and being humble enough to allow the Lord to give us and fill us with all that he longs to give us. Jesus became man, suffered his passion and death, and rose again to meet us in that void, that place that could only been transformed by him.
My friends, that is what Lent is all about. Sure we are going to give things up and say some extra prayers, but what do you say this Lent we allow Jesus to do what he came to do. He became man, came into our world, and took on the cross so that we would know what it is like to be complete and fully alive. He took on our sin and suffering on the cross so we could have the opportunity to know what is like to be free of sin and what it is like to truly live. He died that so that we might come to know that our God loves us unconditionally and longs for us to love Him in return.
Open you heart and remove the sin in your life so the Lord can do what he came to do this Lenten season. Go to him in prayer and ask him for the grace to be filled with all that he longs to give you. That place in your heart will forever long and desire something more until we allow the Lord to enter in and transform our lives.
In Lent He reminds us of what he came to do. Shall we let Him?
God Bless You,
Question of the week? What more are you going to do this year for Lent beyond just giving something up? How are you going to let the Lord into your heart?
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.