Lent: If you haven’t worked out what to give up.. give up giving up! Crazy I know. As we start the season of Lent in 2021, most of us in the western world are feeling like we are in a continual state of Lent. Fasting and abstaining of basic social freedoms and the ability to safely worship. For those shielding and taking precautions, it may have been a whole year since you have set foot in a church. For some of you, it may have been even longer.
Lent is an ideal time to reconnect, take stock and reset our Catholic centre. It is a time of preparation to allow us to get closer to God - a time of solemnity and self-reflection where we confess our failings and resolve to live a life more like Jesus. Often we do this through sacrifice and charitable giving, and these are wondrous things when done with joy and a glad heart.
For the youth, whom I truly believe are modern day heroes, you will need to step up over the coming years and decades and fix this mess, your time will soon come. Just like preparing for Lent, preparing your soul for what is to come, starts now! So this Lent, name what you are struggling with, identify what you need and that will help you in the future, and don't be afraid to break the conventional familiarity of Lent, "Giving up crisps", and simply ask God for more and help us grow spiritually.
Often you hear a priest at the Pulpit suggest, “Adding something into our Lives that will enrich us spiritually”, is something we should consider during this season of Lent – but the message sometimes ends there… What do we add? What can we do? Especially during a Lockdown when there are restrictions on meeting with others, let alone helping them. Some priests may suggest Stations of the Cross, or praying the Rosary. These are wonderful things, and should be part of a regular routine wherever and whenever possible… But I accept not always practical nor do they always fill us with Joy.
Bring the Joy and prepare your Soul
In seeking direction, I am often drawn to the absurd, yet strangely insightful, Joey from the TV Sitcom Friends, where he tries to prove to Phoebe that there is no such thing as a selfless act. Leaving aside the one obvious exception, the Crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ being the one true selfless act, Joey in a perverse way is right?! When we help and serve others, we benefit just as much. And that is a wonderful thing. If we can find a way to safely help others this season of Lent, why not try and do that and bring the joy – but always within the confines of the law and in a manner that is safe. If we add the Rosary or Stations of the Cross into our routine, that’s wonderful too. But remember, do it with a glad heart, and truly give that time to God, and not just will it away, clock watch or race through the Hail Mary’s. You have to let our friend the Holy Spirit in, with a glad and open heart – and if you do, He will support you by bringing the Joy in answering the challenge of, “Adding something into our Lives that will enrich us spiritually”.
Lent isn’t easy - Adding something into our lives is simple in theory, but hard in practise to meaningfully get right. But if done with Joy and a Glad Heart, being unafraid to ask God for more, you are well on the way to preparing the path for our Lord.
Perhaps this message to all our youth, is to use this season of Lent, time in lockdown, isolation or period in the wilderness to prepare your soul. Enrich it spiritually by building a familiarity with God. Read and acquire knowledge to set you on the right path. You will most certainly need it for the years ahead. There is plenty of good literature out there.
Fratelli Tutti, available through here, is wonderful. It is described by CAFOD as a, “Radical challenge, offering a blueprint for a world after coronavirus. It turns the world upside down, placing human dignity at the centre. And it links back to the message of interconnectedness”
Or maybe just start with the Bible, which is calling out to be read. The answers are within it. If that is a daunting task, which for many it is, why not add the Bible in Year Podcast and Reading Plan to your list of subscribed podcasts, and listen to Fr Mike Shultz read the Bible to you, where in addition to the two to three scripture readings he covers in a day, it is accompanied by a reflection from Fr. Mike Schmitz and guided prayer to help you hear God’s voice in his Word.
Being young and Catholic in 2021 isn’t easy, and there may be spiritually harder times to come – but hopefully there are some pointers in here for those that are old enough and able to add to the standard, “Well I’m going to give up crisps” option.
So use this season of Lent wisely, to prepare your Soul for what is yet to come, and don't be afraid, to ask God for more - because if you do, you're set to have a truly wonderful and awesome Lent.
Ave Dear Friends,