The Lenten season poses both challenges and hopes when it comes to growing closer to Christ and in being successful in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Every moment offers and opportunity to grow in some small way during the season and beyond. Here are a few ways to stay on track during Lent in loving and serving Christ and others.
The greatest way to grow and to succeed in Lenten practices is to pray more often. Prayer is our communication with God, but more importantly it is where we can listen to him within our hearts. In any relationship, communication is the key, and with Jesus it is no different. Praying is something we can do daily and at every moment by recognizing the presence of God and in being grateful to him. Prayer is where we can give thanks, where we speak to him, where we can love him, and where we can also make petitions to him. Many times we forget that prayer is not just about asking God for what we want. It is where we communicate with the person who knows us better than anyone and who loves us the most. We should never take this time for granted. Praying often and with an open heart will lead us to loving him even more. This is the goal.
Our world is becoming faster paced by the moment and the day. There is not much we can do about that, but we can choose our actions and the path we take carefully. Slowing down to pray and to be with God is most important of all. Slowing down to “smell the roses” and to truly live leads us to the path of fulfillment. With so much anxiety, depression, restlessness, and anger in the world, slowing down is a way that we can come to know ourselves better. This is a good Lenten practice but an even better practice for the rest of our lives.
Becoming a better person
Serious Catholics and Christians sometimes allude to the fact that being a “good person” or a “better person” is not as important as other aspects of living and loving the faith. It is true that without deep devotion to the truths of the faith, we are going in the wrong direction. However, there is much to be said about committing to being a better person. Being more loving, more forgiving, kind toward others, and caring for the needs of the poor is just as integral to our faith as ever. The two great commandments being to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves blend together in pointing to our life’s mission on a daily basis. The way we treat people in our daily interactions is our legacy with God. Our family, our friends, those at church, people we know and don’t know are those he wishes for us to love and serve. Becoming a better person involves them, our virtue, and our time and talent. This is a major way to grow closer to God both during Lent and beyond.
There are many more ways to end strong during the Lenten season. Don’t forget it doesn’t end there! Keep those practices going after Lent and continue them daily throughout life. It is never too late to love and serve the Lord both during this season and for the rest of our lives.