The Great Lent! A time to be smashed spiritually. A time to go through dry periods. A time to be attacked with division, complacency, judgement, gossip and anything that can go wrong. But “joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5) and “he who endures to the end will be saved” – (Matthew 10:22). For “blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
So, let’s go over three quick things that will not only help us benefit this Lent, but open our eyes to the beauty and sweetness of the Lord:
1. Annoy your Confession Father!
We all avoid that one person who comes to us and has the exact same conversation every time. Unfortunately for our Confession Fathers, they can’t run away. So go be a pest. Every moment this Lent you have a chance to confess, take it! Even if you confess more than once in that week. Take this opportunity to develop a strong connection with your Father of Confession. Have confession more times now than you ever have before. Even if you’re saying the exact same thing every time, even if you don’t have anything to say at all, take the opportunity to sit with him, he will tell you what to do.
The world is a noisy and disturbing place. Yet no noise on earth compares to the chaos found in the mind and heart of one who is unfocused. St. John Climacus divides this lack of focus into two things: Tedium and Despondency.
“Tedium reminds those at prayer of some job to be done, and in her brutish way she searches out any plausible excuse to drag us from prayer”
(St John Climacus).
It’s a common problem. The constant feeling of having no time to pray or when we do pray, we remember, “Oh I forgot to message family/friends/boss etc.” or “I need to finish prayer quickly so I can work/serve/wake up for the Mass tomorrow etc.”. Or we simply just lose concentration during prayer and we think of everything but the prayer.
Despondency is the opposite end of the spectrum. It is when we have all the time and energy in the world, but don’t care enough to dedicate it to God and our spiritual life.
Both are problems of focus. Both have the same solution. St John says the best way to overcome these are by mourning our past sins and thinking of eternal blessing. So this Lent, let us truly mourn and repent of our sins so we can refocus on God. Take time in a quiet place each day. Take note of our shortfalls and all that is heavy on our hearts, and mourn over them. Ask, “How can I separate myself from the One I love like that?” Then turn to the Lord and tell him “Forgive me sweet Lord, for I turned from You, I rejected You and caused tears to fall from Your pure eyes”. But repentance is not enough, there needs to be reconciliation. So now we return to God! We now learn that a relationship with a fleeting pleasure can never compare to a relationship with an unconditionally loving and eternal God. Pleasures will pass, no matter how great they may seem, but what God has for us endures forever. For, “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). And in this way, we will neither have tedium nor despondency.
3. Get romantic with God!
It’s incredible what we will do for those we love: Stand up for hours to buy a burger and not complain once, spend thousands to see our idols and have no regrets, talk all night with our lovers and not get tired. Yet how often do we stand up to eat the Bread of Life and complain, give some money to the poor and have regrets or refuse to stay up and pray because we are tired? It’s time we take the romance in our lives that is aimed toward our passions and turn them towards God. Romance is a natural function inside all humans and it was put inside us by God for God. “All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
So this Lent, let’s get romantic with God. Take a peaceful walk through nature with the Lord. Spend what we can on gifts for His children. Light some candles when we sit with Him and stay up late talking openly and intimately with Him; sharing all our deepest thoughts, feelings, ambitions and dreams. Take Him with us everywhere we go, refusing to let go of His hand. Let our hearts beat as one, in total synergy with God. Let this Lenten period be a honeymoon between us and our most Beloved One.
+ + +
“Scarcely had I passed by them, when I found the one I love. I held him and would not let him go” (Song of Songs 3:4).
SAYG ~ Meena Awad.