Slow down, Lent is here
Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC
I hate to admit it, but a good portion of my religious life has been spent in the fast lane. I would go from one event to another without much time in between. I had such a great passion for my ministry and for serving God that I would sometimes neglect my relationship with God. It was easy to justify that my whole life was a prayer. It took me a while to learn, but now I am convinced that none of our lives are meant to be lived at such a rapid pace.
The season of Lent, starting Feb. 13, affords each of us, no matter what our state of life, a great opportunity to pull over out of the fast lane. We are invited to slow down and fill in the spiritual potholes of our lives. Every year the Church, in her wisdom, gives us 40 days as an annual retreat to spend time examining our spiritual lives and our relationship with God. Lent is a yearly opportunity to reflect on how well we are living out our baptismal commitment; how our lives are in line with the gospel message.
Traditionally our Catholic faith calls us to use the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to renew our spiritual lives. No matter when in Lent you read this, it is not too late to begin this renewal.
Take prayer. We might look at how much quality time we give to the Lord. Our prayer life might be limited to Mass on Sunday and grace before, and sometimes after meals. Maybe we pray only when we need a favor, like a good mark on a test or a promotion in our jobs. If this is the extent of our prayer, it probably needs some attention.
No relationship can deepen and grow unless we are willing to listen and share ourselves with the other person. God is no exception. During Lent, if you don't already, set aside 15 minutes of your quality time each day to be with God. Go to a quiet place, slow down and let God love you. Read and reflect upon some scripture each day and get to know God better.
Then take fasting. Many people think fasting has only to do with food, but there is more than one way to fast. It depends on us what type of fasting would best benefit our spiritual lives. Maybe you have a need to fast from gossip or negative words or some other behavior that pulls down yourself and others. Or perhaps you might strive to talk less and become a better listener. Those in the fast lane rarely have time to really hear what people say to them. They are usually rushing to the next "important" event.
Lastly, we have almsgiving. It is much easier to give of our surplus to charitable causes than to give the precious gift of our time. Lent calls us to give of ourselves, not just our money. Think about who you need to spend more quality time with or who could benefit from your gifts and talents.
Besides time, another thing one may be called to give during Lent is forgiveness. Take time to reflect on who in your life, whether living or dead, you may need to forgive for some hurt done to you. I think that is an important way to give alms and a sacrifice pleasing to our God.
This Lent, let us slow down and try to be more reflective. It is difficult to get out of the fast lane, but in the long run it will benefit our Christian journeys. Meetings, jobs, term papers and classes will pass away, but our relationship with God is forever.
(Holy Cross Sister Margie Lavonis works in communications for her religious community in Notre Dame, Ind.)
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