Today’s first line in the first reading from the prophet Joel beautifully and perfectly sums up the meaning of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. “Even now, says the Lord return to me with your whole heart.”Joel 2:12.
Lent is a liturgical season whereby the Church calls us to examine our relationship with Christ and invites us into a deeper relationship with Him. Conversion is a life-long process. Lent accompanies us into spring. Winter is barren, silent, and cold. As spring approaches the earth and gardeners ready the soil for planting. It takes time, attention, and care. The earth is watered, fertilized, pruned, and a “clean up” is often necessary. Lent is this time of care for our soul.
Lent is an opportunity for us to examine our hearts and how aligned they are with Jesus. Prayer, penance, fasting, and almsgiving are the means to make the soil of our hearts rich and able to grow in love for God and neighbor.
How will you prepare the soil of your soul during this Lent? Sit quietly with God in solitude and silence and ask yourself:
- What attachments are keeping you from Christ? This may be what you must “give up” (pruning).
- Do you set aside time to pray? Prayer is the well that fills us up daily (watering).
- How is your self-control? Do you have any unhealthy desires? Fasting helps our self-discipline and empties us so that we can fill ourselves with what matters most (clean up).
- How are you loving? Are you giving of yourself generously to God and others? Practice almsgiving during Lent as “giving” enlarges our hearts and our capacity to love and experience joy. (fertilizing).
Whatever you choose, choose something that will help you bring your whole heart to God.