The Many Disciplines of Lent

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Like physical therapy, the disciplines of Lent that we assume must be customized to the particular faults we aim to remedy. For some, the daily round of Liturgy of the Hours isn't particularly a discipline--it is part of the routine of the day--but to spend a single day without reading the newspaper and tut-tutting over the bad behavior of others is nearly unthinkable. For others it may be that introducing morning prayer is the most that could possibly be accomplished. For still others, there are other disciplines that train us in love and obedience.

A good physical therapist doesn't spend a half-hour working your shoulder if the primary disability is in the knee. Yes, you'll probably have additional body work, but the focus will be on what ails you. So, too, with Lent. Don't look around and see what everyone else is doing and wonder whether you've chosen the right things to get you started. Instead, look at God and ask Him if you're doing the right things. Ask the Divine Physician what your therapy needs to be and adjust your course accordingly. Keep to the minimum of what the Church requires and add as God dictates, not as the disciplines of others dictate. None of us are wounded in the same way--none of us needs the same care and healing--thus, the treatment of each person will be dictated by the person, the nature of the injury, and the relationship that person has with God.

Don't worry that there are some real Olympic-style fasters out there--or some J. Paul Getty alms-givers. Focus instead on looking at the God who loves you and wants you only for Himself. He'll tell you how to get to Him; He will guide you with leads of love. (Hosea 11:4)

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magnificant! (is that a word?) so very true, too real. In a family, it is also worthwhile to reflect that my penance should not become my husband or child's penance - if I can not sacrifice or mortify in a way that does not cause them suffering, then I need to change my choices.

The heavy lifting needed to prepare for Lent starts long before. The most important thing for a layperson is to find a good confessor to whom one can discuss what may be done for Lent.

Also, the act of doing as another directs (especially one to whom you have revealed faults and difficulties to for months, and has an idea of the trial you face) gives the penitent a chance to practice Holy Obedience. That's always nifty.

Dear Tommisar--

Boy have you said a mouthful with that. The selection of a good spiritual director or confessor to whom you are open and honest regarding all your faults is critical to continued success. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that there are far too few such available to the laity. But you are correct. the humility that goes with obedience is particularly spiritually strengthening.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 1, 2006 3:52 PM.

Words for Lent was the previous entry in this blog.

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