This past Advent I told myself I would work to be prepared for Lent and be ready when Ash Wednesday arrived. You can probably guess where I am going with this. Like most other years before, Ash Wednesday arrived this year and I found myself spiritually unprepared.
The thoughts running through my head on Ash Wednesday were, “What can I give up? “What bad habit can I cut out of my daily routine? and “How can I volunteer at my church during Lent?”
With my mind wondering off to all of the things I could do or give up for Lent I almost lost track of the purpose of the liturgical season. I knew Lent was supposed to be a time of renewal and reflection but I was seeking something more. I was seeking something that had yet been revealed to me.
In my Lenten research I came across a writings of St. Francis de Sales. In the early 17th century, St. Francis wrote the book ‘Introduction to the Devout Life.’ The book was written to be a daily spiritual guide for living an authentic Christian life.
In the 12th chapter St. Francis wrote, “Be sure then, my child, that while externally occupied with business and social duties, you frequently retire within the solitude of your own heart. That solitude need not be in any way hindered by the crowds which surround you– they surround your body, not your soul, and your heart remains alone in the Sole Presence of God.”
My heart stopped. I found myself overcome with a thunderstorm of emotions. In my frantic thoughts about Lent, I was suddenly grounded.
“…while externally occupied with business and social duties, you frequently retire within the solitude of your own heart.” That is what I am seeking – peace of heart. The way I know best to find that peace of heart is to find it in companionship with the heart of Christ. I am not looking for things to do that are simply distractions in the world but I am seeking a conversion.
This Lent I will be more aware that God wants my heart. Lent is about walking in solitude with Christ on His via dolorosa, road to Calvary. He wants to use my intentional Lenten actions and sacrifices to bring my heart closer to the heart of Christ.
I will look at Lent different this year. During Lent, I still plan to reflect on the things I can do or the things I can give up but I will be doing it with a different outlook. I will be doing it with a heart that is open to walking the road to Calvary with Christ. It is hard to say how Lent will transform my heart this year but I am excited to walk down the road.