February 21. 2012
Wasn't Christmas just a few weeks ago? How did Ash Wednesday come upon us so quickly? Perhaps here in our DC area and in most places of the USA we have had a Sprinter season rather than a tedious winter. But whatever the reason for the surprise, we are standing at the threshold of LENT. Suddenly from days of gifting and caroling we begin the days of a much deeper reflection on our own lives in conjunction with the pathway that our Savior, Jesus Christ, walked for us.
Today might be a good day to prepare for these days that lie ahead. Some kind of serious preparation can make for a Lent that we can conclude with a tremendous sense of satisfaction. It is like building a house ... if the plans are drawn ahead of time with time spent thinking about how we are going to use the new house, most likely once completed, the house will not be the "castle" we had really hoped for.
This thought in mind, then, let me suggest that you use a Lenten Journal for the days of Lent. Let the Introduction be finished today. It should not take all that long but it should be completed in conjunction with some serious thinking about what you want to gain from your journey through the days and weeks of this great annual spiritual exercise.
What is my goal for these days of Lent? What do I hope to achieve for myself? What facet(s) of my life do I want or need to subject to alteration or eradication?
Lent calls us to make sacrifices during the journey to Easter Sunday. So, what specific sacrifices will I write down as activities for yourself? What spiritual activities will you bring into your life to help you reach the goal you have set for this "personal retreat"? Can you add attendance at a weekday Mass or two if you do not already attend Mass during the week? Can you personally make the Stations of the Cross either on your own -- and if you do not have a booklet to help you there are more than a few on the Internet. Just google Stations of the Cross. What about reciting the Rosary if you do not do so already? What acts of charity can you envision as possible ways to sacrifice some of your time, talent or treasure?
Lent is known throughout history as a time of fasting and penance? I have always admired a particular retired priest Cardinal friend who always fasts every Friday throughout the year and almost daily throughout the season of Lent ... and he is well beyond the years when he is not required to make such a sacrifice and healthy enough to pull his body into such a venture.
Again, the most important part is to have a small journal to record not only the goal and how you plan to achieve that goal but to record the various spiritual insights and reflections that are put forward through this blog or other sources of spiritual reading and prayer.
Know this, dear reader, you and all those who do visit "Prayer on the Hill" will be daily remembered in my prayers before the Blessed Sacrament each day during Lent 2012. May the Holy Spirit help you make your journey a spiritual experience you will always remember.