Have you noticed an unending stream of daily reflection resources flooding your inbox or Facebook feed already, as if you didn’t realize that Ash Wednesday is March 6 and the Forty Days of Lent will soon be ticking off your inner liturgical calendar? For many, if not most sincere spiritual seekers, the old question “What are you giving up for Lent?” has yielded to “What are you doing for Lent?” This change of emphasis has been helped along by Pope Francis’ suggestions about what kind of fasting delights our God who desires to draw near to us this season. He offers his take on the words of Isaiah the prophet:
Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
Releasing those bound unjustly,
Untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
Breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!” (Isaiah 58: 6-14).
No matter what you are discerning this Lent, don’t you hope that God will shine some light on your decision and clearly say, “Here I am!” Look for resources that will bring you close to God’s word. Reflections on the daily Scriptures remind you of what those passages you heard proclaimed at Mass or read early in the day. We believe that God’s word is alive and active! It is Real Presence! So among the many resources available to you online and at hand, keep close to the Living Word and trust that God will break through the many offerings that can, at times, be a distraction when you are trying to listen with your heart. Fast from consuming too much, from setting yourself up with first fervor Lenten resolutions. Choose one or two and let them be based in the Word of God. Remember, God isn’t trying to hide from you! Instead, God is offering you this season to reconnect and to recognize that “still small voice” uniquely attuned to the ears of your heart. Try to simplify, not complicate your spiritual discipline for renewal.