“Plan For Lent”

“Hey Dave, what are you doing for Lent, what are you giving up,…..  is it spinach and cauliflower again?” To be honest it’s not a precise science for me. I find that if I’m not careful, I can set the wrong focus for Lent.

Sometimes I can imagine some grand adventure of serving the poor in Africa or moving to the inner city or becoming a monk in the desert, getting up at 4:00am and spending the day in prayer and fasting. All of this “spiritual daydreaming” is usually just a big distraction and not helpful. I need to “grow where I’m planted”, operate in the vocation that I’ve followed for the last many years. I’m not a 20 year old single man, looking to determine  my vocation from God; I’m a 76 year old grandfather.  

Lord, what is your plan for this season of my life? How can this 2023 Lenten season help me move in that plan. I know the plan is not to move to a monastery or to Africa. It’s important that my Lenten practice fit with the bigger plan. Two dangers can be to focus on the extremes, i.e. …. “Join The Monastery” scenario or the “ Sit On My Fanny” scenario, where I remind everyone that I don’t have to fast after the age of 59… I can just look out the window at the clouds and the birds.

Whatever I end up doing at this stage of my life will probably not make it into Butler’s Lives of the Saints…. “oh my gosh Dave, that’s incredible how you’re closing your charge account at White Castle…you’re amazing….and no donuts after 10:00pm …… wow, unbelievable.”

Jesus tells us, “ if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) It’s in the daily life journey where we grow in holiness, choosing his will in the daily challenges of praying, loving our spouse and children, working at our job with integrity and perseverance, loving the hard to love, choosing joy even when it’s difficult, not allowing discouragement to cause us to shrink back, repenting quickly when we fail. Our crosses may not currently be extraordinary, yet we must take them up with hope and a smile. If we do that, we will grow in holiness and we’ll be ready if the Lord sends some larger ones to us one day. 

So for Lent, let us do our duty with joy. Let us ask the Lord to stay by our side, especially when things get tough. Let us learn to do ordinary things with extraordinary love….. e.g. “pick up that paper on the floor with love, do the dishes with a smile, encourage the one who can cause us to grimace.”  Holy Spirit show us how to love in small and practical ways. And at the same time it’s good to up the ante with our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving…. maybe even cutting back on that spinach and Brussel Sprouts…. and even those White Castles. Wow, this can be very good news.

2 thoughts on ““Plan For Lent”

  1. We have to remember to pray for grace to do whatever we are called to do. My physical therapist said I have to work on sitting up straight. I have to pray for grace to remember to do it and then offer it up🙌🏻


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