“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth.”
This line, taken from today’s Responsorial Psalm, is something that I have been praying every day since the beginning of Lent and plan on praying throughout Lent. It reminds me every morning that my Lenten sacrifices aren’t for me to become a better version of myself. They aren’t for me to lose weight or wake up earlier. They are for me to become better in my relationship with God — a time to return to walking in the Lord’s truth.
It is so easy to give something up or take something on for Lent and not grow closer to God. I mean what does not eating chocolate really do for my relationship with God? What does waking up at 5:00 am to work out do for my relationship with God? I could easily use Lent as a 40-day trial period. Try getting fit for 40 days and if I don’t like it, then I don’t have to do it anymore.
Kinda defeats the purpose, though.
Lent is not a trial period for you to better your worldly self, but instead a time for us to refocus our goals and to actively work towards our heavenly goal. In a society focused on numbers, we want to believe that it only takes 21 days to form a habit. We want the quick and easy formula that will set us on the path to success. We all want to believe that if we do yoga at exactly 6:15 every morning that we will become flawlessly relaxed and in tune with our bodies. That’s just not the case. And that’s okay.
Our situations are constantly changing and we have tools within our faith to help us. Even if we lose ourselves in the uproar of humanity, there is hope for us. Similar to Levi, the tax collector in our Gospel reading, there is always time to follow Christ. There is always time to course correct.
Tomorrow we begin the first week of Lent, so it’s definitely not too late. If your Lenten sacrifice has nothing to do with God, add a faith element to it. For example, I mentioned not eating chocolate. Instead of just not eating chocolate, say a Hail Mary every time you get the urge to eat chocolate. I mentioned my own Lenten sacrifice of waking up at 5:00 am. I say my daily prayer and then do some scripture reading. It doesn’t have to be going to Mass every day or saying a Rosary every hour (although these are great). It just has to be something that serves as a reminder that Lent is a faith journey and a time of faith reflection.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that course-correcting does not happen immediately, but instead is understanding that you’re not going the right way and making a step in the right direction.
Which direction are you moving this Lenten season?
Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Michigan. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various articles in the Catholic Diocese of Austin’s official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, and other local publications. She now works as the Content Specialist in Diocesan’s Web Department.