Is it just me, or does it feel like Lent has been going on for about a year now? It feels like just yesterday I was writing a post about how Lent 2020 snuck up on us. How little we knew back then. Who could have imagined what 2020 would bring us?
In many ways, we have been in an "extended Lent" since last March. As we come up on a year of this pandemic in the United States (with hope on the horizon in the form of vaccines and steadily declining cases), we reflect on what it's been like. We can't deny that pandemic life and Lenten life are pretty similar!
Lent is a time of sacrifice. A time of solitude. A time for introspection. A time for self-denial. Sounds pretty similar to what we've all been dealing with during Covid, right? We have all had to sacrifice, to be alone, and to look inward. It feels like Lent never ended! What are we supposed to do now that it's starting back up again?
Last year, our Lenten theme was #pickonething. In pre-Covid Lent, it was easy to become overwhelmed with devotionals, good intentions, things to "give up," and spiritual goals. We encouraged you to choose one positive change to focus on in your spiritual life and stick to it. How did that go for you?
None of us could have possibly imagined the corporal context of last year's Lent, but hopefully you were still able to grow closer to the Lord through it all. This year, our theme is a bit different. We can't help but feel like something's missing from our lives right now. That's because it's true. In fact, many things are missing. That begs the question: Want More?
Boom! There it is! It's like when they say the title of the movie in the movie. "Roll credits!" For real, though. Do you want more? Do you feel like there are things missing from your life during this time? Do you feel like things aren't quite right? Good! They're not.
This pandemic has brought us many things; some positive, most negative. One of the most worrisome of these has been the "normalization" of this way of life. "We may just wear these masks forever." Yikes! "I don't mind watching Mass on Facebook, it's so much easier than dressing up and going to church." No, no, no! "Things may never get back to 'normal.'" Guess what? We're made for more than that.
This is legitimately worrisome! We are not merely made to adapt to pandemic life and never come back. We are not merely made to prefer livestreamed Mass over the real thing. We are not merely made to be like everyone else and bicker about the politics of Covid. We are made for so much more than this!
If you glance at the cover image for this blog post, you'll see that it's the same as our Lenten banners in front of the church. You'll also notice that there are not one, but two hashtags in the image. The first is #madeformore, because we are. The second is the answer to the question, "want more?" The solution, if you will. The solution to wanting more is to #turntochrist.
Lent is THE perfect time to seek out the Lord, and there are countless ways to do it. Where might we find Him? In the desert, for one! Jesus went and spent 40 days and 40 nights in the desert to reflect and grow closer to His Father. While I wouldn't recommend roughing it in an actual desert for over a month, we have another way to center ourselves.
We all have "deserts" in our lives. Your desert is that place you go when you want to be alone. A place for rejuvenation, quiet reflection, and spiritual renewal. The best part is, it can be anywhere. Your car, your bedroom, that little corner of your house where you play your video games (guilty), anywhere! Where's your desert?
Members of our parish family will be sharing about their deserts on our Facebook page each Wednesday and Friday during Lent. Make sure to check them out; you might even find some ideas for your own desert! I'd highly recommend that you be intentional about spending time in your desert during this Lenten season.
Another thing I'd recommend if you "want more" out of life and Lent is to find concrete ways to remind yourself of your Purpose. Not your job or your hobbies. Your Purpose. The reason you've been put on this earth. I can't tell you exactly what yours is, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that you have one.
If you're feeling adrift, especially now, there is no better course of action than to ask God to show you the path He has in mind for you. If you're looking for a good first step, I'd recommend watching The Search by the Augustine Institute. It's a 7-episode miniseries specifically geared towards finding your Purpose, especially for young adults. Trust me, it's worth it!
Lent is different this year. It feels a bit more real. A bit more painful. Trust me, I get it. But don't let that curl you into a ball of despair. Lean into that feeling, embrace it. Remember that you are #madeformore! Remember that you have a Purpose. Seek it in your desert and in the Lord. You won't be disappointed with what you find.
May God bless you this Lent,