Drawing Nearer to Our Lord This Lent
We've all had to make sacrifices. We couldn’t do the things we normally do, see the people we wanted to see and visit the places we planned to travel to. We’ve given these up in order to ensure the health and well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. In this sense, the past year has felt like one long Lenten sacrifice. How, then, can we approach Lent without already feeling worn out?
It helps to remember that Lent isn’t just about sacrifice and austerity. Sure, we should use Lent as an opportunity to pare down the excesses in our lives – food, drink, social media usage, etc. – because those overindulgences are a distraction from our relationship with God. Have we, being deprived of our “normal” lives, picked up any new habits that make us lose focus? Maybe we turn to Netflix too often. Maybe we forget to exercise or eat healthy. Maybe we constantly worry or engage in social media drama. Lent is a time to identify the habits and vices that lead us away from the Lord and work on lessening, removing or altering those activities.
But Lent is also a time to renew and practice the things that bring us closer to God. Prayer – both formal (such as the rosary) and informal, direct conversation – leads us straight to him. Reading Scripture or spiritual writings enriches our faith. Think, too, of other times you feel the divine presence. Do you love to paint, write or kayak? Maybe you feel God is near when you’re baking or crafting a scrapbook with your favorite family photos. Recognizing God’s presence in what you enjoy doing is a wonderful way to experience his closeness and love.
Volunteering and serving others also help us encounter the Lord. Opportunities may seem limited this year due to pandemic restrictions, but we can be creative. You can contact local organizations to offer your time and socially distanced or remote support. Even something as simple as asking your pastor or your neighbor, “What can I do to help you today?” will go a long way.
The core intention of Lent is to draw closer to our Lord. After all, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert at the beginning of his pastoral ministry. So, too, should we view this Lent as just the beginning of all the incredible things that are to come from cultivating our personal relationship with our Father.
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks;
your presence, O Lord, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off;
forsake me not, O God my savior.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.
PSALM 27:7-9, 13-14
Veronica Szczygiel is the Assistant Director of Online Learning at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education.