By Sister Donna M. Fannon, MHSH
A question that we often think of at this time of year is “What am I doing for Lent?” or “What am I giving up for Lent?” These are good questions, ones people have asked themselves for ages.
Many years ago I attended a day of prayer in preparation for Lent, and the retreat leader proposed a different question: “What is God doing in us and through us at this time in our lives?” That question helped all of us to view Lent from a different perspective—God’s perspective. It took the focus off of the individual hoping to please God, and placed the focus on God’s action in our lives and how we might respond to God’s abiding presence.
As we thought, prayed, reflected and shared with each other, there was a definite change in the atmosphere within the room. Everyone was energized, listened reverently to each other, and began to experience a sense of community. We had moved from a place where each person focused on “me and God” to a group of people concerned about how God is present and loving in each other’s lives, calling all of us to grow, to change, to reach out, to connect and to love.
After awhile, the retreat leader posed a second question: “What can I do during Lent to respond to this call of God?” Ah, there is still something to do, but we realized that “what we do” is not just an isolated action, but a response to the activity of God in our lives, and a call to make a difference.
Our spiritual lives are always God’s initiative. We are always responding [whether we realize it or not] to some initiative that God has begun in us. The first letter of John sums it up succinctly: “The love I am speaking of is not our love for God, but God’s love for us” (1 Jn 4:10). The more fully we realize this, the more our lives become a response to God’s action within us, and the more we will be transformed into disciples of Jesus. For it is Jesus Christ who calls us to follow him through all the experiences of human existence, including death, into eternal life.
- How have you experienced God’s love in your life?
- How do you share that love with others?
- How are you listening to Jesus’ call as Lent begins?
- What practices do you engage in that help you notice God’s activity in your life?