Well, let me clarify. The Lenten period is almost over, just two more days remaining. Lent began on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Thursday night that precedes Good Friday. For 2019, that is March 6th through April 18th. If you have done it correctly, the practices you developed (if you in fact practiced Lent) should be incorporated all year long. Along the lines of your New Year’s Resolutions which benefit you most when you apply changes to your life at all times, Lent is the same way. Like I wrote in a post a couple of years ago titled, Lent Revisited, “Don’t stop doing it when Lent is over.” Let any changes you make become a part of you and your life as you think, pray, and meditate. Lent should raise awareness for yourself so that you can grow and evolve from things that might be destructive to you or to those with whom you encounter. Even if you don’t eliminate those things forever, this exercise should help you recognize how to employ moderation. For me, some of the things I’ve focused on are only problems because I tend to do them to excess. Doing them in moderation would help improve my life immeasurably.
I identified some things, and I feel so uplifted because of what I chose. I don’t need to mention all of them here; but I’ll say that I focused on three big, specific things and a bunch of small, lesser important things. But they all play a role in helping me to grow, and one in particular overshadows the others, and that is being patient with others. Specifically, I become quickly irritated when people ask me for money, especially random strangers on the street. Given I work and live in the Washington, DC area, I encounter this a lot, and given I love vacationing in New York City a few times a year, I encounter it a lot there as well. Recently in Washington, a gentleman approached me and asked me for money. I told him I was unable to help him and I kept walking. He continued talking to me asking me to help him any way I could, and his persistence began to get my ire up, until I took a deep breath and remembered my goal to be more patient in situations such as this.
I offered to pray for that man. If he was really sincere when he said I could help him in any way that I could, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with prayer. Evidently he didn’t have prayer in mind and quickly objected. But I pressed on with my offer of prayer and he acquiesced and sat quietly as I prayed. By the time I was done, that man was in tears and thanked me for praying for him. He talked for a long time about how his choices got him in trouble and how he only want’s better for himself and his family. I thanked him as well. I explained to him how I was working on being more patient with others. He had helped me address one of the shortcomings on my short list of things I wanted to work on.
We parted ways and I prayed again, for myself, thanking God for presenting me with the opportunity to grow. I think I like it best, for me, by identifying a few targeted areas where I could benefit from growth. There are any number of different things a person could do for Lent. I highlighted many of them in a post I wrote titled, What Can I Do For Lent. I could have chosen many things, but I identified three specific things; the thing is, I discovered those three things fed into many other behaviors and activities that were weaknesses of mine, behaviors and activities I hadn’t considered. Nothing functions in a vacuum. Everything is interrelated.
In a blog post I wrote titled, Happy Lent, I highlighted a message from Pope Francis shortly after he was installed as pope, promoting the practice of Lent. Let me end by sharing an excerpt from that message:
“May the Holy Spirit, through whom we are “as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.” ~~ Pope Francis, from the Vatican, 26 December 2013 – Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr ~~