Many of us may be hearing our shepherds, our priests, recalling to our minds that the door to a wonderful journey is soon to open before us. There are mysteries ahead for us, holy joys, glories which may be hidden to our human eyes but graces from Spirit Lord flooding into our souls in such abundance that our spiritual shortsightedness will not dim their splendor.
We are looking ahead to a powerful and mystical Gift from God: Lent.
Lent holds the invitation from our Savior to draw close to Him. He wants to prepare our soul to meet the Father, to give meaning to His ocean of suffering on the Cross so that on Easter Sunday morning, He can present our souls to the Father in whatever measure we have allotted to Him. He gratefully takes that measure with great joy and gives us to the Father.
Lent is a time when God blesses us so that we can recognize our sinfulness. It's a time when we grow in self-knowledge so it is a journey inward. This can only happen in prayer, prayer when it's difficult, prayer when its silence presses in, prayer when we'd rather find a thousand tasks that are suddenly all categorized as emergencies so that we can explain to God that we'll come back in a bit when things are calmer so that we can sit in solitude with Him. And the Lord waits, lovingly grateful for the small measure of time that we eventually give Him because He sees the brilliant beauty that was ordained for us in our glorified state. In His staggering love, we are worth the wait.
Solitary prayer brings us face to face with ourselves and that can bring shame, embarrassment, sorrow, pain. Christ Jesus is in every second of that pain and woundedness, waiting to heal, transform. Meeting Christ where we are is never inconsequential.
He has a mighty purpose in setting out to seek us. He desires to love us into Himself. He desires to make us His equal (St. John of the Cross OCD). Even while we live here on earth. Our Eternity begins today, wherever we are, whomever we're with, whatever we're doing.
He needs our sins. He longs to absorb them into His wounds so that we no longer bear any scar of sin. He will bear our scars for all eternity for us.
When we feel intimidated at the thought of solitary time in prayer, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face OCD reminds us that Jesus Lord "sees our anguish, the weight that is oppressing us... He is not far, He is there, very close. He is looking at us and He is begging to take this sorrow, this agony we carry. He needs it for souls, and for our souls" (General Correspondence Vol.1).
In the weeks ahead, Holy Spirit will whisper to us, often. He graciously invites us to stop for even a moment, bend the knee wherever we are, tell Him we love Him even if it's only a loving "glance toward Heaven" (Therese). This small token of our attention and our love gives Him permission to begin to till the soil of our soul, soften it, and when the great journey of Lent begins, our soil will be ready to receive the Lord, to hear Him speak to us, teach us, leave His Fragrance that will entice us to follow wherever He leads us, dialogue with us, transform us. Our Eternity is in progress (St. Elizabeth of the Trinity OCD).
Our Holy Lent beckons.