Lenten Checkup

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At this point we have traveled through nearly an entire week of Lent and its a good time for a reevaluation. The following prayer is the closing prayer from evening prayer for today:

look on us, your children.
Through the discipline of Lent
help us to grow in our desire for you.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

For those who do not keep to a regular rhythm of morning and evening prayer, spend a few moments with the prayer above.

After you have done so, ask yourself--are my Lenten disciplines actually causing me to grow in my desire for God? Can you say honestly that what you have done up until now really makes you think of God more often? Does your heart turn to Him more regularly throughout the day?

Or does the discipline of Lent simply make you miserable and unpleasant to be around? Are you grousing because you can't have your cigarettes, chocolate, coffee, or cola? If so, your practices may be off-target. Refocus, ask the Holy Spirit what will make you turn to Him more often. How can you have more "Mary" moments in your "Martha" world? This is the purpose of lent. Heroic penances and terrible sacrifices are meaningless if they do not turn you more toward God. They are nothing more than the puffery of spiritual pride--the ability to outdo your neighbor in self-abnegation.

But what is the purpose of that abnegation? If it isn't to bring yourself into the presence of God and to increase your love and intimacy with Him, then it is entirely wasted. If it is more than what the Church demands of her children, it doesn't even have the merit of obedience.

So take this opportunity to make your Lent joyful and productive. Leave yourself behind and move forward. Move constantly toward God.

And use the prayer as a check every day. Are my disciplines really making me decrease that He might increase, or are they having the opposite effect? Remain open to the prompting of the spirit and prepared to change (always strictly obeying the regulations of the Church and the guidance of your spiritual advisor). Be prepared to add to all of your other practices the one thing that will allow you to attend to the Lord in all joy.

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It is interesting that I, as a not-yet believer (?) am positively influenced by my Lenten observances: less food, no coffee, much less alcohol (usually I have often at least one drink a day). Fasting in this modest manner makes me positive and - although I cannot say at this point I 'believe' - brings me closer to dealing with Christian faith. Together with my readings it really feels as a rich time.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 7, 2006 7:18 PM.

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