Lent: A time for a spiritual checkup

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

Many people get a yearly medical checkup. Lent is a good time for a spiritual checkup to help deepen our relationship with God.

Prayer

First, prayer is important in the life of Christians. Prayer is communication with God. In Lent, we are given the opportunity to examine our prayer life. We might discover that we do not really communicate with God or our prayer consists of memorized prayer. This is a good time to look at our prayer life and find ways that will help us get closer to God. It might be as simple as setting a daily time for prayer, even 15 minutes, and sticking to it, not just during Lent, but after the season is over. Those who already pray regularly might look for new ways to enhance their prayer life like going to Mass an extra day a week or reading some Scripture each day to learn more about Jesus. It may be to make a retreat or day of reflection.

Fasting

The second discipline of Lent is fasting. We can fast from food or meat, but there are other ways to fast that might benefit our spiritual lives even more. When I was a campus minister, I would give the students a prayer about fasting and feasting during Lent. Some things suggested were that we should fast from judging others and feast on the Christ dwelling in them; fast from pessimism and feast on optimism; fast from complaining and feast on appreciation; fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness; fast from self-concern and feast on concern and compassion for others; fast from discontent and feast on gratitude.

Almsgiving

Finally, Lent is a time to focus on almsgiving. Almsgiving traditionally means to give food or money to those less fortunate than us. Some of us do not have money or food to share, but that does not get us off the hook. Another and sometimes more meaningful way to give alms is to give of our time and love to the poor and needy. Perhaps we can volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or visit lonely people in nursing homes. Think about other ways you might serve others. And hopefully our service will not end on Easter Sunday.

Lent is a time of metanoia, a Greek word that means to turn our lives around. It is to change what needs to be changed to make us better disciples of Christ. Lent gives us another chance. Take the opportunity.