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Lent: What needs to be done?

Lent: What needs to be done?

With Lent starting in a few days’ time, our attention is turning towards that joyful season and considering how we might best live it. Thoughts that flit through our heads might include, ‘well I gave up chocolate last year; I think I’ll do that again’ or ‘last year, I gave up alcohol during the week; maybe this year I’ll give it up at weekends too’.  Perhaps we’ve thought, ‘Betty has decided to visit old Mrs Miggins twice a week.  I think I’ll go and visit Mrs Miggins five times a week’.  

The positive aspect of all these ways of thinking is that some good comes out of it: some increase in self-control; some strengthening of virtue.  Mrs Miggins isn’t lonely (though maybe she wishes she were!) and maybe by Easter you’re a few pounds lighter.  But perhaps it is not the best way to plan what to do for Lent.  Comparing with last year or our neighbour is not helpful: we are not the same now as we were last year and we are certainly not the same as our neighbour.  A subtly (yet somehow radically) different way of looking ahead to lent is to ask not ‘what shall I do for Lent?’ but ‘what needs to be done?

This latter approach requires that we look seriously at our lives at the moment, especially our relationships with God and our neighbour.  It requires us to look seriously at our prayer lives.  We thank God for all the good we see there – especially good habits that may have grown out of previous Lenten efforts – but what needs to be done now?  Similarly with fasting and charity: what needs to be done?  What is God calling me to do?

At St Bernadette’s, we are greatly blessed to have a fantastic opportunity tomorrow morning to spend some time considering these points before the Blessed Sacrament.  We have the opportunity to go to confession before Lent starts, that we might begin this joyful journey without the encumbering baggage of sin.  I look forward to seeing you there but appreciate that for many it will be impossible to attend.  Never fear – there will be other opportunities to help us celebrate this joyful season (details here ) and other resources to help us (eg here and here).  Have courage: He is calling you!


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