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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our Lenten Discipline

Our Lenten Discipline

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  Lent, of course, is a wonderful time of spiritual opportunity that the Church gifts us with.  One of the beautiful things about Lent is its duration: 40 days.

Of course the 40 days is based on Jesus’s 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert, after which He was tempted by the devil.  During this 40-day period we are called to face our own temptations and weaknesses.  The beautiful thing about 40 days, is that it is the perfect amount of time to develop a habit, or to break one.

As we pray about what to offer God this Lent, I suggest the first thing we need to do is examine ourselves and ask the question, “What habit do I need to develop, or to break, that can bring me closer to God?”  The answer to that question will guide us in discerning a powerful Lenten discipline.

By focusing for 40 days on this discipline, we should find ourselves a better person on Easter than we were on Ash Wednesday.  It is good to give up something that we know we will return to after Lent, simply as an offering to God, but we should also do something that will make a lasting impact on us spiritually.

Do I lack discipline in my eating habits?  Can my stomach become my god, as Scripture says?  Then perhaps my discipline should be dietary, and include fasting.  If I am faithful to it, by Easter I should have much more self-mastery (and be healthier, too).

 Have I struggled to find time to pray?  The maybe my discipline should be focused on prayer this Lent.  If I am faithful to a Lenten prayer regimen, then by Easter I should be a man with the habit of daily prayer, a habit that should naturally continue long after Lent is over.

Do I lack generosity, or am I anxious about financial matters?  Then perhaps my discipline should center on almsgiving.  If I am faithful to it, but Easter I should be a man less attached to material wealth, and better able to trust in God for my temporal needs.

This Lent, may we prayerfully consider what we will offer God.  Consider what your habits are today, and what you would like them to be in 40 days.  Then this Lent will truly be the gift that God means it to be.