Welcome to the homestretch of Lent! It’s like you are down to your last final exam and summer is around the corner. In two weeks we will throw the biggest party of our liturgical year, to celebrate the greatest feast the Church has, Easter! Are you pumped? You should be.
Some of you may be a little disappointed with your efforts this Lent. Maybe you didn’t stick to your commitments to pray more and procrastinate less. Perhaps at times you forgot we were in the season of Lent. That is okay! There is still time to recommit to fasting and prayer.
If you are struggling because this Lent looks like it will end up like every other, may I make a suggestion?
If nothing has seemed to work thus far in Lent and you are frustrated because you can’t keep your Lenten promises, maybe you should try something different. Instead of adding more penances, you should do less.
Who Do You Serve?
I was with a friend who lived in California, and he remarked on the difference between the D.C. and California mentalities. He said, when you come to D.C. and you meet new people, the first question asked is, “so, what do you do?” He said this was very different from growing up in California where people asked, “where are you from?”
Way back in the day, when people lived in kingdoms and under lords of the land, the question asked was, “where are you from?” The answer identified the king or lord that the people served, and they took a lot of pride in this answer.
Obviously, we don’t all live in kingdoms and farm the land of a lord, but this question can lead us to discovering how we should identify ourselves. In our culture there is a huge focus on what we do. We need to change our mentality. We must identify ourselves by who we were created to reflect, in image and likeness, and who we serve – God the Father.
Doing, Doing, Doing
I know you guys lead busy lives. Our culture, your teachers, parents, friends, yourself – there is pressure from every direction to boost your resume and increase your chances of getting into the very best college. The result of this pressure is an overwhelming schedule that includes: school, homework, time with the Lord, family, a social life, part time jobs, clubs, honor society, athletics, volunteer work and oh yeah… sleep.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure not only to participate in most, or all, of these things, but to do them all perfectly. You are expected as a freshman in high school to juggle a schedule that is four times what it should be.
This is a problem in our culture, but the bigger problem is – it has become the norm. Anything less than this busyness is perceived as laziness.
The Gift of Being
We equate “doing stuff” with “being.” We define ourselves by what we can do, not who we were created to be. We were placed on this earth to glorify God the Father, which is done most simply through being who he created us to be.
We have been given our lives as a gift. We are created and held in existence by the love of God the Father, and this is a gift. The funny thing about a gift is – you can’t earn it. You can’t merit your life through great grades, hard work, three varsity sports and red bull fueled all-nighters.
Look at your commitments. Do you think your value or importance lies in the number of things you can do and the variety of activities you participate in? Or is your worth recognized as a son/daughter of the King?
You are royalty. No number of activities can earn or change the fact that you are invaluable to God the Father.
Pray About It
One of the primary goals of Lent is to take things out of our lives and make room for the Lord to enter into our lives. We must slow down and appreciate the silence and stillness that is so crucial in our preparation for the feast of Easter.
I challenge you to take 30 minutes of complete silence and stillness today, and just sit. Find a place that is not distracting (a chapel, a library, a park bench) and just be. Invite the Lord into this time of prayer. Ask Him to sit with you and help you appreciate the fact that just by being, you bring glory to your Heavenly Father.