By Teresa Rocha
On Ash Wednesday throughout the world, people participated in liturgies that called to mind the need for repentance and believing in the Gospel. The season of Lent is about spiritual growth. We are challenged to consider the changes we need to make, if we are to live as disciples of Christ.
We are called to go beyond our personal comfort zones, to go to our personal deserts and listen to what God needs to say to us. Then, we are called to act in that direction. In the Gospel of Luke, we read that “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was led to the desert for forty days” (Luke 4:1). So Jesus entered into the desert, a time of solitude, to listen to the inner voice of God.
In his address to the World Movement on Feb. 10, Pope Francis called for “transformation,” for “a wild world, which must become more humane, more Christian, but more human, because the Lord is always near to humanity.” This invitation calls us to consider our own personal spiritual growth and our mission to live for the wellbeing of others.
We are called to accompany each other on this journey toward conversion. We are called to be agents of change, not only for ourselves, but for others. This is what Lent is about.
In life, one has to follow directions to reach the right place. I am reminded of the emergency directions we receive on a plane. We are told to put our masks on first before we try to help someone else. It makes sense. How can we help someone else if we cannot help ourselves? Thus, Lent is the time to enter into the conversation with God and enter into a personal listening process, a process of conversion, so that we may be better equipped to reach out to others.
What if during this Lenten season, we empty ourselves from our worries? What if we go deep in our lives and focus on what we need to change, in order to make this world more humane? What if we enter a path of conversion, allowing this Lenten journey to be a time of personal spiritual growth?
Consider spending daily quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of the world, to be alone with the Lord.
Consider taking personal stock of where we are now on life’s journey and consider what and how we can change. Consider making these changes lifelong, and not just for 40 days. Put a realistic plan together to work on the spiritual changes needed in your life.
Remember, conversion happens when we realize where we have been and look toward where we need to go. Reconciliation and repentance are important parts of this journey toward change.
Make our times of abstinence and fasting joyful moments, as we recall all Jesus did out of love for us on His journey to Calvary.
Whether it is through finding the solace time for prayer at home, taking a walking trip or experiencing a silent retreat, it seems the Spirit of the Lord is leading us to experience his love.
During this Lenten season, may our Lord in Christ’s mercy strengthen our baptismal commitment to be open for the spiritual encounter with God’s tender love and forgiveness. May our forgiving Lord be with us in this desert time and allow us to be renewed in our own spirit, bringing about the goodness of a more humane world.
Teresa Rocha is the High Desert and San Bernardino Vicariate Coordinator for the Office of Catechetical Ministry.