As we prepare to enter the season of Lent in just five days, have you given any thought as to how you will make this 40-day journey a productive and holy experience? If your faith is as cold as the Wyoming wind, what will you do to heat it up? If you are lukewarm, how will you bring it to a sizzle? If you are on fire with love for the Lord, how will you sustain that love? Basically, how do you intend to cooperate with God's grace during this Lenten season to bring yourself to the next level in regard to your faith development?
Here are a few questions for reflection to help you discern where you are right now in your spiritual quest:
1. Are you making time for daily personal prayer?
2. Are you participating well in the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy?
3. Are you receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently?
4. Are you seeking opportunities for conversion?
5. Are you serving others willingly?
Will your answers to those five questions impact your decision as to whether or not to make any Lenten resolutions? If you are going to make resolutions, how will your answers to these questions shape those commitments?
Condense it down to three categories if that makes it easier. Obviously, your approach to these things will vary according to your state in life. (A young couple with small children running through the house will not find it as advantageous to hope for quiet meditation as will an older couple whose children have all grown and moved out.)
What prayer experiences do you want to have during Lent? In addition to participating regularly in the sacramental life of the Church, what else do you intend to do? Suggestions--go on a retreat; pray the Stations of the Cross each week; pray with the Scriptures every day; pray the rosary every day; spend time each day or each week in front of the Blessed Sacrament; go to Mass during the week when possible if that is not currently a practice you have; spend time in quiet and meditation each day. My encouragement is to not let this season pass you by without growing in your discipline of having a vibrant prayer life.
What do you want to learn during Lent? Will you study a portion of the Catechism? Will you take a class on an aspect of your faith that you wish to understand more fully? Will you study the Sacred Scriptures? Will you study something about the liturgy--maybe with a focus on Holy Week and the Triduum? Bottom line--how will you grow in your knowledge of the faith during this holy season of Lent? This academic pursuit is not just to make you smart. It is to lead you into deeper prayer and a deeper love for God.
How will you put your faith into action? Let's start at home. How will you serve those right in your own home during the season of Lent? Give that some serious thought.
Will you serve the poor in a very intentional way during Lent? Will you visit someone who is sick or homebound? Do you have a talent that you could share with those in a nursing home? Once again, our state in life will dictate how much time we can invest in some of these types of outreach. However, I challenge you to look at your life in the overall context of question number 5 written above. Are you serving others willingly? Put it into the framework of life at home. Do you fold the laundry joyfully? Do you take out the trash exuberantly? Do you wash the dishes with gusto? Okay. Let me rephrase the question. Do we at least do these things without grumbling? These are all opportunities to seek conversion--right in our own home.
Read Revelation (last book of the Bible) 3:15-16. It talks about what happens when we are lukewarm in our faith. Let's bring our faith to a sizzle during this Lenten season! Do you need a visual? How about this?