Change it up for Lent” writes S. Janet Gildea in introducing the March issue of e-voc from the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
Lent is our annual opportunity to plow up the fields of our spiritual life. After the months of ordinary time and a hope-filled season of Advent and Christmas, it is time to dig up dead roots and turn under the dry remains of last year. The traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and giving alms that we learned as children can still help us in this process of deepening our life with God. In adulthood we take responsibility to find the opportunities for Stations of the Cross and parish missions. We can still benefit from “giving up” candy, ice cream, soda or alcohol. We can remember that we do not live on bread alone when we fast on Ash Wednesday and
Good Friday and abstain from meat on all the Fridays of Lent. We can still make little sacrifices that turn into a donation for Catholic Relief Services or other charities.
This year maybe you could consider how you can re-design these practices for a change. Your preferred practices of prayer might be tried and true, but what might God be offering you that can open new pathways to encountering God’s love? Taizé prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina or a Way of the Cross that weaves its way through the inner city are some examples. A priest recently shared his retreat experience: “I don’t usually do this, but on retreat, in the privacy of my room with my iPod, I put on my favorite music and let myself pray with movement.” Change it up!
Fasting can be “from” or “for” something. This Lent maybe you can fast from snap judgments of others or from driving over the speed limit. Have you considered fasting for an issue of social justice? Perhaps you could fast for legislation for immigration reform or gun control, and add a letter or phone call to elected officials to put some “meat” on your fast. Or you could fast for a deeper reverence for life and connect it to educating yourself and others about that goal. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world!”
Extra acts of service to others can be works of charity as well as acts for a more just world. Cultivating awareness, doing those acts with clear intention, requires much more than money in a basket. Could you tithe your time? Just imagine giving one-tenth of your free time each week during Lent to a local service organization or charity as windfall of grace. This is much more than spare change!
We’re just about halfway through Lent. How’s it going for you so far? Ready to change it up?
Download the rest of the issue in pdf format. March E-voc 2013