“I won’t eat chocolate! I won’t eat chocolate! I won’t eat chocolate!”
Lent is far more than Christian “strong arming” our way through forty days of starvation.
Lent, at it’s core, is about making room for God’s grace. He wants to more completely flood our hearts and souls with a greater presence of Himself.
Here is what poet Robert Herrick has to say in To Keep A True Lent, written in the 17th century:
Is this a Fast, to keep
The larder lean?
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d to go,
A down-cast look and sour?
No: ‘tis a Fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife
And old debate,
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not by bin;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.
For the next six weeks we will journey in the footsteps of Christ--all the way to the cross. I recently had a very powerful experience while doing the Way of the Cross up a mountainside at a Benedictine Monastery in Hawaii. I was so profoundly struck by the meditations and prayers that I realized I could offer no better Lenten reflection each week than the one that, as Catholics, we are already encouraged to do.
I pray that taking just two stations per week and really meditating on them and asking God to speak to you through them will greatly encourage your heart to be freer from attachments, more accepting of your own daily crosses, more mindful of others, and the like.
Making room for God’s grace may include adding something to your daily routine, not just taking something away. Creating a time for “sacred space” and “sacred reading” is always blessed by God. Below is a list of spiritual books that have spoken to me. See if God does not speak to you through them as well. When we make time to meet God, He always shows up.
Don’t cheat yourself this Lent. It’s a forty-day walk with God. Go hand-in-hand.
Station I: Jesus is Condemned to Death
Meditation: Recall how Jesus was scourged and crowned with thorns, and how He was then unjustly condemned by Pilate to die on the cross.
Prayer: Adorable Jesus, it was not Pilate; it was my own sins that condemned You to death. I pray You, by the merits of Your sorrowful journey to Calvary, to assist my soul on its journey to eternity. Amen.
Station II: Jesus Accepts His Cross
Meditation: Recall how the heavy Cross was laid upon Jesus’ bruised shoulders. He accepts it meekly and courageously, because by that Cross He wills to redeem the world.
Prayer: O Jesus, by the merit of Your Cross, grant me the grace to accept meekly and cheerfully the difficulties in my life, that, by so doing, I may always be ready to take up my cross and follow You. Amen.
“He must increase; I must decrease.” John 3:30
Help me to keep my Lent, by making more room in my heart for you and for others. By Your grace, allow me to walk hand-in-hand with You all the way to the cross. Sharpen my spiritual senses so that I may be more greatly in tune with You and the things You would ask of me. Please give me the grace to love You more and more with each and every step we take together.
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Beautiful Spiritual Reading for Lent:
*Come see Fr. Jacques Philippe LIVE in DC- March 21-Rsvp here.
*Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe
*Searching For and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe
*In the School of the Holy Spirit by Fr. Jacques Philippe
The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander
Into Your Hands, Father by Wilfrid Stinissen
Meeting God in the Upper Room by Monsignor Peter Vaghi
Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Heidi Hess Saxton
Hearts on Fire, Praying with Jesuits by Michael Harter, SJ