Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, we began our annual Lenten Journey into the deepest recesses of our heart where hopefully we will encounter the Lord and grow more deeply in love with Him. So much has been written, so many thoughts have been put before us for our reflection and meditation that I am at a loss for my own words in this regard. With the help of the Holy Spirit I am trying to grasp the direction that my own Lent will take and I can only invite you to do the same.
The Church gives us a general focus: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer is our conversation with the Lord. It is personal, it is both speaking and listening. It is knowing how to be silent and receptive before him so he can speak to our hearts.
Fasting has always been a challenge for me. I suffer from low blood sugar so I cannot do the bread and water thing! But I can fast from judgmental thoughts, from my own sinful tendencies, from my desire to be comfortable and free from any kind of suffering. I have come to realize that for me, hunger is the way I can grasp my emptiness and my great need of God. It helps me to be detached from the small or big things that I cling to most in this life.
Pope Benedict’s Lenten message for this year has to do with the third part of our focus – almsgiving. I strongly encourage you to read his message.
Speaking to the faithful on Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father said that it is only God alone who can satisfy our deepest longing for Lenten spiritual renewal. “Today, too, the Lenten season is a privileged moment of conversion and spiritual renewal for the whole Church. The rite of the imposition of ashes is a summons to return to God and, in doing so, to discover authentic freedom and joy. Jesus reminds us that only by “losing” our life will we truly “find” it. Our ultimate fulfillment is found in God alone, who satisfies our deepest longings. By taking up our cross and following the Lord, we experience redemption, inner peace and loving solidarity with our brothers and sisters... As we set out once again on this journey of spiritual renewal, may Mary, Mother of the Church, guide us to a fruitful celebration of Easter,” he said.