It's hard to believe the season of Lent is upon us, starting tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. As you may know, this season is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Here are some resources to help you spiritually throughout Lent. Growing up, the Lenten journey of forty days seemed to drag on forever, and my mom dutifully took us to Stations of the Cross each week, right after our fish stick dinner (I had a grilled cheese). For some reason, a visiting priest of Polish descent always seemed to be the presider for our weekly pilgrimage around our church, commemorating Christ's passion and death. As I recall he did not have a good singing voice, so when he belted out "Where You There," the windows shook. Actually though, I love these memories of childhood, and enjoyed being an altar server for stations.
I remember hearing a priest ask the congregation once why Catholic churches always have Stations of the Cross hanging from the walls around the church. His answer has always stuck with me, and every Lent I ponder what he said, now decades ago. "Everybody goes through difficulties in life, and for some, it may seem like no one could ever have it worse. But with the Stations, we can look to our right or to our left, we can look forward and sometimes even behind us, and we might realize that Jesus, through his passion, had it worse than we could ever imagine."
Over the years, the stations have become consoling for me, especially during tough times. What that priest said all those years ago still resonates with me, and I hope they may be for you as well. Christ, through his passion and death, offered himself up willingly for all of humanity, and that includes you and me (Philippians 2:5-11) . It was a gift beyond comprehension, a sign of God's infinite love and mercy towards us. Lent is a perfect opportunity to focus on how we have responded to this gift. Let's use the next forty days wisely, prayerfully, humbly walking through the desert with our God.
For those who are looking for an Ignatian Guide for lent, one of my favorites is the Ignatian Workout For Lent by Tim Muldoon. Here's an online version from Loyola Press
Let's pray for each other over the next forty days, that our Lenten pilgrimage through the desert will bear fruit, fruit which will last.