Do you still have the Lenten notebook you got at Mass last Lent? Are you still using it? I am, and I know it’s helpful. So as we get ready to begin Lent this coming Wednesday, let me suggest a resolution for you: If you haven’t been using the notebook (or some other way to record and remember what you hear God saying to you at Mass), give it another try. If you have been using it, go over what you’ve written since last Lent and ask: How has my faith grown? Does God appear different to me, now? What’s happened over these twelve months?
Since Lent last year we’ve continued, at the Parish Council’s suggestion, to make time at Mass for writing (or whatever you choose to do to take God’s message to you at Mass to heart). Instead of singing during the preparation of the gifts, there’s quiet music. Make the most of it this Lent. Trust that God wants to speak directly to you in His Word – the Scriptures, the words of the hymns, the petitions of the Universal Prayer, even the homily at times. When you hear something that strikes you as important, write it down, and then during the week go back to what you wrote.
What you write doesn’t have to be long, or profound. It could be a phrase, or even a single word. You simply have to expect God to have a Word for you, and to listen for it. The key to making this work is this simple process:
- Prepare: Read the Gospel in advance;
- Be Present: Come to Mass early to quiet yourself and open your mind and heart for God;
- Pray: Ask God to say something to you that will heal you and make you a better version of yourself;
- Listen: to everything at Mass: Hymns, prayers, Scriptures, homily, intercessory prayers; fleeting interior thoughts, images, hopes, fears…
- Write down what seems important, even if you’re not sure what it means just yet;
- Review what you wrote during the week.
It’s as simple as that.
In just a few weeks (starting the weekend of February 27-8) we’ll have our Lenten Mission, which focuses on prayer. (Recall that prayer is one of the four signs of a “dynamic Catholic” that Matthew Kelly mentions in the book you got last Fall.) Why not mark your calendar right now, if you haven’t already, to come to the Mission talks: Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday, February 29 – March 1 – March 2, either after the 9am Mass or at 7:30 in the evening. (Confessions will also be available on Wednesday March 2.) The presenters are Fr. Damian Halligan, S.J., and Ms. Patricia McDonough. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you can make this part of your Lenten discipline.
And why not invite relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to come to the Mission with you? Remember another sign of a “dynamic Catholic” is sharing our faith with others; this is a simple, friendly way to do that.
Lent is a time to focus our spiritual lives. Give this simple tool a try if you haven’t already. Until next week, peace.