Reflections of God's Goodness
Lent—a time to make room for God
We live in a land of abundance. We have so much of everything—food, clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc. Pleasures and luxuries are taken for granted. We are so filled up with ‘stuff’ in so many ways that our spiritual sense is dulled. There isn’t much room for God.
Lent comes to reorient our lives—to make room for the God who loves us and wants to pour out grace upon grace so that we can ‘let our light shine.’ We are told the pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving—and they are, but often we miss the ‘big’ picture of Lenten practices.
Lenten practices have a purpose beyond just ‘doing!’ Jesus’ words to us paraphrased in an old song do a good job of explaining:
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
We are encouraged to pray more, but God doesn’t want more words. God desires the prayer of a heart that turns to Him in every moment, a heart grateful for the amazing grace that He offers us continually—a heart that expresses gratitude by offering this same kind of gracious mercy to others, especially those in most need of a loving, gracious touch.
Fasting is not an end in itself. Fasting is a means to be emptied in order to be filled up by God. It not only enables our prayer to come alive; but it fuels our charity to others. If we fast from food or entertainment, if we practice self-denial, we can use those resources that become available to us to feed the hungry, support organizations that enrich the lives of children, or provide care for the earth.
Almsgiving encourages us to find the essence of stewardship in our lives–to live with the mindset that everything is a gift, every good thing comes to us through the generosity of our God. Therefore, we look to God for how and what He desires us to do with what we have.
I challenge each of us to find new ways to practice the pillars of Lent—prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This Lent, put into place times of silence with God, times of doing without for the sake of giving to others and living out our gratitude to God in our daily lives with kindness, grace and generosity toward every person we encounter.
If we can do that, our light will surely shine, and our lives will give glory to God, as we journey together toward the glorious celebration of Easter.
Sister Mary Ann Barnhorn, SNDdeN
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.”