Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Sunday of Lent 2012

Throughout the season of Lent there is the challenge not to become agitated, annoying or frustrated because a Lenten practice of two seems to become a burden.  There are the days when it seems that 40 days is much more like 365 days!

Spiritual advisers often remind us that it is important to remember the Holy Spirit during these days.  If you make a retreat on a regular basis, you know that the director or you yourself turn to the Holy Spirit for the discerning voice.  Lent is an annual retreat.  It is important not to forget the Holy Spirit in the midst of the desert of a retreat.  The mission of the Holy Spirit is to support and guide us.

We do not come upon moments in the New Testament where we find that Jesus is caught with gloom and doom.  Certainly there were many occasions when he may have been brought to the threshold of despair because of temptations and from the failure of his close associates to understand who he was.  How did he maintain a sense of balance?  Perhaps we could learn that from him.

When Jesus prayed using formal prayers, like an Jew, he would turn to the Psalms.  Especially during his 40 days in the desert the Psalms must have been his "vade mecum."  Certainly conversations with the Father would also have lightened any challenges to his spirit.  There are 150 psalms.  I have read a suggestion that one way to keep a sense of spiritual joy during Lent is to pray two or three psalms each day.  If you do not have a book with all the psalms, like the Bible, there are many websites that can afford you access to a printable copy of the psalms.

A Benedictine priest who writes various reflections notes that the founder of his order and a man he calls one of the world's best spiritual directors, St. Benedict, included in his rules for his monks that they should always seek to live the season of Lent "with the joy of the Holy Spirit."

Perhaps Benedict's challenge might make these 40 days seem like little more than a day or two!  Go for it!