So how’s your Lent going? Are you ready to grow closer to God or are you in a spiritual rut?
I asked Sr. Mary Fidelis of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration for her thoughts on how to have a more fruitful Lent. She told me it’s all about conversion.
“Ask the Lord in prayer what His desires are for you during this Holy Season. He will let you know! A good question to ask in prayer: ‘Lord, what is keeping me from running with freedom along the path of holiness? Where do I keep stumbling? What separates me from You? In what area of my life am I most selfish?’ Then, take up that cross this Lent, embrace some penance in that area of your life, and prepare for an adventure!”
But how do you hear the voice of God?
Of course, you can hear His voice when you read the Bible and when you listen to the words of counsel and absolution in the sacrament of Reconciliation. You can hear Him in the Mass and in the voice of loved ones and even strangers. But you also have to ask Him to speak to your heart — and then listen.
It’s in those quiet moments of listening that you hear His gentle words fill you with peace and direct your path. You will not hear accusations or condemnation. (That’s generally the voice of the enemy.) You’ll hear Him encourage you to let go, to trust, to forgive, and to sacrifice. You’ll hear Him when you’re heartbroken and doubting His Providence and wondering if somehow He forgot you. “I am here,” He will whisper.
He will speak to you in the stillness of the night when your pillow is wet with tears and you feel afraid or rejected or lost. You’ll hear Him when you ask how it is He wants to draw you even closer to His heart that throbs with love for you, as if you were the only one in the universe. You’ll hear Him in moments of joy when you rock a baby to sleep or consider the beauty of a sunset.
The great prophet Elijah heard the voice of God, not in the wind or the earthquake or the fire, but in that “still, small voice.” You have to train your ear to detect it, and once you’ve got that tuned in, it becomes quite clear. Ask the Lord to help you know yourself better this Lent so you can see what patterns of sin need to be uprooted from the garden of your soul.
Fr. Doug Lorig, pastor of St. Maria Goretti, told me that this self-knowledge is not meant to demean or condemn us, but to work toward the healing of our deep heart. Self-knowledge will help us “begin the hard work of digging out the rocks and weeds in our heart. If we can convince the Holy Spirit that we really do want to do that, He will find a way to put in front of us what has to be addressed,” Fr. Lorig said.
So I did a little digging during prayer and pretty quickly I heard that gentle whisper reminding me how much I enjoy staying up late and then hitting the snooze button the next morning. Why not get up earlier and join Him at daily Mass before work? And I heard a few other suggestions, too.
What about you? What is God calling you to do in order to grow closer to Him this Lent? Take time each day to rest your head on the Sacred Heart of Jesus and listen. It is there that we will hear the still, small voice leading us ever closer to God.