Hear Gary Zimak on EWTN radio’s Son Rise Morning Show Tuesday, 3/8 at 6:45 a.m. and on Ave Maria/EWTN Catholic Connection Friday, 3/11 at 8:35 a.m.
No matter how close we are to God, the season of Lent provides a great opportunity to grow closer to Him. One of the biggest mistakes that we can make is to not take advantage of this blessed time. For many of us, we struggle to decide what we should “give up” or what we should “do” during Lent. If you’re still undecided, I recommend that you simply say “Y-E-S” to God!
YIELD – It is human nature to desire control over our lives. We like to have a plan and feel peaceful when our lives follow that plan. We struggle as circumstances beyond our control disrupt our carefully laid plans. Illness, job loss, relationship troubles and unexpected events can all cause us to feel “out of control”. Although we may not like the feeling, it can provide the reminder that we really aren’t in control of our lives – GOD IS! People like Abraham, Moses, Mary and Joseph were very aware of this fact. They were all asked to submit to God’s will without knowing most of the details. In a sense, the same is asked of us every day of our lives. We never know for sure what each new day will bring. There are even times in our lives when all we see is darkness. It is during these times that the Lord asks us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).
Lent would be a great time to yield control of our lives to God. While, in theory, it shouldn’t be a big deal because He’s already in charge, it’s actually one of the most difficult things for us to do. It’s hard for us to trust God, especially when we don’t know all of the details. However, if we want to get closer to the Lord, trusting Him is critical. One common element in the lives of the Saints is complete trust in the will of God. Why not use Lent to pray for a greater trust in God’s will?
Lord, help me to trust You more this Lent. Help me to remember that You know what’s best for my Salvation!
EUCHARIST – St. John Chrysostom stated, “How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.” As Catholics, we are privileged to allow Jesus to nourish our souls with His own Body and Blood.
In addition to the Sunday obligation, why not also attend one daily Mass each week during Lent? You will not only hear the Lord speak through the sacred readings, but you will be able to receive His Body and Blood. In doing so, you will be given the graces to lead a holier life and to ultimately grow closer to Him.
I also recommend that you spend some time praying before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Many churches have adoration chapels that will allow you to pay a visit to Jesus. Even “stopping by” for a few minutes during the course of your day will bear great fruit in your life. Sometimes, I’ll visit the chapel on the way home from work just to say “Hello” to the Lord. If Jesus really is our friend, doesn’t it make sense that we would want to visit Him from time to time?
Lord, help me to appreciate the blessing of the Eucharist. Transform me with your graces, so that I am better able to be a “light in the darkness” and the “salt of the earth”.
SACRIFICE – Every voluntary sacrifice, no matter how small, can help Jesus in carrying out His mission. When we give up sweets, Facebook, coffee or anything else that brings us pleasure, we experience suffering. In and of itself, that pain means nothing. However, when we unite our suffering with that of Jesus on the Cross, its value becomes infinite. As St. Paul states in Colossians 1:24, the Lord allows us to share in His agony. Our discomfort or suffering suddenly becomes redemptive in nature.
In addition to “giving something up”, we can add to our Lenten sacrifice by also “doing something”. We can take the money that we would have spent on sweets, coffee, beer or DVDs and give it to the poor. Time normally spent on Facebook or watching television could be replaced by time spent with the Lord in prayer.
Lord, accept my Lenten sacrifice and unite it with your suffering on the Cross. Help me to remember that You can use my simple sacrifice to help save souls.
As we begin the Lenten season, it’s easy to “not do anything”. When we take that approach, however, we’ll be no closer to Christ when Easter arrives. On the other hand, making an effort to “do something” will allow us to grow closer to Our Lord when we celebrate His Glorious Resurrection.
While it doesn’t matter exactly “what” you do during this holy season, I strongly recommend that you do something. And if anyone should happen to ask if you’re doing anything special for Lent, you’ll be able to say…
(© 2011 Gary Zimak)