Our Lenten liturgical season just began. In my childhood I dreaded Lent because it seemed so depressing to me! Now that I have a better understanding and am a bit more mature I embrace Lent. Embrace Lent? Why? I now view Lent as at time to get ‘my house’ (me) in order! Just like you might actually get your physical living space in order (which I do need to do too!) it’s a time to get your “self” in order. In order—what does that mean? Well I’m not going to specifically tell you that, all I can say that each of us knows how we can be our best selves. Therefore each of us know what ‘in order’ means as it relates to our own self. And frankly it’s between you and God! It’s not a time about guilt and shame—far from it! Instead it’s about taking time to reflect on life in the present moment and become aware of my actions and behaviors and God’s love moving through my life at the moment.
We as Sisters of St. Joseph have an Ignatian-Salesian spirituality. One way you could do this type of reflection is through the use of the Ignatian daily Examen. I’ve learned about this helpful practice while in community since I did not attend a Jesuit high school or university or know any Jesuits. You might already be aware of this practice if you’ve been in contact with a Jesuit priest or any institution associated with the Jesuits! What is the daily Examen? Well straight from the Jesuits webpage: www.jesuits.org on spirituality they share this:
- Place yourself in the presence of God. Give thanks for God’s great love for you.
- Pray for the grace to understand how God is acting in your life.
- Review the day—recall specific moments and note your feelings at the time.
- Reflect on what you did, said, or thought at the time in those specific instances. Were you drawing closer to God or further away from God?
- Look forward in Hope toward tomorrow. Think of how you might collaborate more effectively with God in the new day.
Lent is not only about the stuff/items you’re giving up. In addition to a personal sacrifice that you might be doing I’m suggesting to do the Ignatian daily Examen this Lent and even continue it past Lent! It’s a great spiritual practice for any liturgical season of the year i.e. all year long! It helps us stay aware of our actions and it helps us get or keep ‘our Spiritual houses’ in order. We take our days to God and review in a loving light all that might have happened—the good, the not so good, the downright terrible, the uplifting joyful parts—don’t try to hide anything here—God already knows! And we end it with Hope—“I will try again tomorrow God! I learned today what I can do better tomorrow!” “Thank you for a new day to try again!”
If you are discerning Religious Life or the priesthood this practice will also be of use to you for all the exact same reasons as noted above!
Does this make it easier to embrace Lent? I hope so! Here’s to getting our ‘houses in order’ over these forty days and beyond!!!
Blessings on the Journey fellow Pilgrim ~Sister Clare