As delicious as the Knights of Columbus fish fry dinners are, fish fries are not what Lent is about.
Lent - beginning with Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18 and continuing up to the “Triduum” of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil & Sunday - is about stepping back and taking a good look at our lives as disciples of Jesus. We need assess our resurrecting’s progress before we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection.
We Christians pray more during Lent, but not so that God finally hears us.
We pray more to help open us to finally hear God’s still, small voice. Christianity is not about changing God’s mind. It’s about God changing our minds.
We remember to include our Lenten praying time to be still and just listen. You don’t have to pray in church for this additional prayer to be effective. Many people pray while driving, with the radio off. While showering. While going for a walk. While farming or gardening. While just looking out at the lake by the cabin. This helps Christians turn off the never-ending talking going on inside their head or through their lips. And they can finally listen. I guarantee that you will be surprised what you finally hear if you only calm down your mind and listen.
We also give even more of ourselves in Lent. Certainly to the VIPs in the Kingdom of God: the poor. But we also give even more of ourselves to our family members and friends, to our church, to our charities.
We also fast, so as to develop a bit more self-control. The sort of self-control that not only opts out of a second or third helping. But also puts aside the iPod or iPad or TV remote control or the joystick … and turns us towards others.
We also retreat. That is, go on retreats.
When we step back from the roller coaster that is our frenzied lives of routine and practice being more aware and more intentional we awaken into the sort of life that God creates us for. A joyful life of relationship with God and with others.
It’s hard to live a life of joy if we aren’t intentional about focusing our energies on relationship-ing. On Jesus … others … and yourself. That is, J.O.Y.
Father Paul Jarvis contributed this column.