Seven days from now it will be Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday can seem to appear out of nowhere. For many, the first notion of Lent's beginning comes just three days before, at Church on the prior Sunday. And for non-Church goers, the first notice of Ash Wednesday might be the ashes on a coworker's forehead!
So with only 7 days before Ash Wednesday, it's not too early to begin to give Lent some thought. Here are some starter questions for your prayer and reflection...
1) Lent is a kind of spiritual spring training for Christians. What has grown weak, what's out of shape in my spiritual life? in my prayer life? in my relationship with Jesus? How do I need to exercise my spiritual life to condition and strengthen it? What in my spiritual life needs stretching and working out? What small steps might I take every day in Lent to develop a discipline, a routine in my prayer?
2) Lent is a time for fasting and going without. What fills me up? What food and drink, what leisure and entertainment, what work and activity stuffs my body, my heart, mind and imagination, my days and nights, my self? If I experienced in my body the hunger of fasting and giving things up for Lent, might I discover a hunger for more satisfying, substantive food for my soul?
3) Lent is a time for giving to the poor (almsgiving). What's my attitude to the poor? my prejudices about them? Over the course of the year, how much do I give to the poor? How much of my time do I give to serving the poor? When I complain about what I don't have, do I take an honest look at all I do have? Could it be that I actually have more than I really need? How might I simplify my life this Lent - and how would that free me to give more to others?
Lent is a time to live for forty days the way a Christian should live all year round!
So, these are some questions and thoughts to help us begin to prepare for Lent, a season of 40 days intended to help us prepare to celebrate Easter with minds, hearts and habits refreshed and renewed by the Word and sacraments, by our Lenten practice - by the grace of God.
Please take some time to give this some thought. I'll be posting similar reminders between now and Ash Wednesday - just 7 days away!