About a month ago we began our Lenten journey. Ideally we all took some quiet moments to establish the ways in which we were going to dedicate our lives to Christ through these 40 days by our various practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Like every good plan, it probably started with the best of intentions as well as some combination of dedication and enthusiasm. As we turn now to enter into the final stages of Lent, we can look back on our promises and notice that our enthusiasm has waned and even our practice may have slipped a bit. In these moments, it can be easy to say, “Well, I did pretty good this year, I’ll give it another shot next Lent.” What I want to encourage you to do is to not plan to rededicate yourself for next year, but rededicate yourself today.
It is easy to think that because there are so few days remaining (not to mention Spring Break and Saint Patrick’s Day upon us), that it is just easier to let things slide the rest of Lent. But Lent is not meant to be “easy.” The Christian life is not meant to be “easy” – it is meant to be fulfilling. It is fulfilling because it leads somewhere. But in order for it lead us, we must be willing to follow. This is nothing new in the Christian life because Christ told us that, “Whoever wishes to be My disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” We know that we are not perfect, and that even when we decide to follow Him we will still fall. We know that when we fall, we have it within us to get back up. We have the example of Christ falling three times on the way to Calvary, and we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation to help us to get back on our feet and continue our journey carrying our cross.
Yet we have a tendency in Lent, especially towards the end of Lent, to not get back up. Perhaps we don’t think the things we have committed to for Lent are worth it anymore, or that there just isn’t enough time to recommit ourselves. Don’t fall into these temptations, remember that “One day within His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere,” even just one day of living fully committed to God is absolutely worth it!
This applies to discernment of our vocation as well, because we can have the same tendency to give up on God’s call. We can tell ourselves “I heard that wrong,” or “that’s not for me,” or “I’m not good enough for that,” and we write off God’s call in our lives. Don’t let your fears and hesitations drive you. Fear is a bully that doesn’t deserve a place in our lives – especially in the spiritual life. When we respond to God’s call, do we know where it will lead us? No. When we start Lent, do we know the graces that our practices will guide us to? No. Yet, we make the commitment. Take the lessons of Lent and apply them to your discernment. Be open to God’s movement and never give up on Him and His will for you. When you find yourself lost or unable to make a decision, focus on His heart, let Him draw you closer to Himself, and then keep moving. Don’t give up on Lent, and don’t give up on your vocation.