The text below was originally printed in the bulletin of Boston’s St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center on Arch Street.
During each liturgical season in the Church year, women and men who come for spiritual direction often want to discuss the liturgical season and what they can do to make the season especially meaningful. The ministry of spiritual direction is not about “teaching” but rather “inviting.” In my practice, I invite those who come to consider ways of deepening their relationship with God, strengthening their spiritual journey. This year, I offered a “spiritual recipe” that can be used for the Lenten season as well as throughout the year.
Each year on Ash Wednesday, we begin a journey of 40 days to the joy of Easter. The Church gives us the Lenten season as a way of deepening our relationship with God.
Many of us have special devotions and spiritual practices that accompany our 40-day journey. We often consider this as a time to “give something up” – to pray more and to make sacrifices. All of these and any practices always become for us the blessings of this holy season.
I would like to share a “spiritual recipe.”
A heart that desires a deeper relationship with God, and a commitment to my spiritual journey
1. Clear the “clutter” in my life to make more room for God.
We begin our Lenten journey with a time of reflection. As I look at my life, I think about the situations in my life that might block my journey.
What might these blocks be? I prayerfully name them. Is there something that I wish to change?
I make a commitment to clear whatever may block me so I can make more room for God.
2. Listen to my heart.
Many of us spend a great part of our lives “in our heads.”
We spend much time pondering.
We begin our Lenten journey with a “journey to the heart” and
we remember Our Lady, who pondered as well.
We hear in Scripture that she “pondered all these things” in her heart.
Mary will accompany our journey to the heart. We invite her.
I make a commitment to “listen and to pray with my heart” for there
God will speak. I will listen and I will hear.
3. Make a commitment to love – to love more.
We begin our Lenten journey committed to be more loving —
through loving moments in prayer for our world, our country, our Church,
and one another. We pray that God’s love will touch the hearts of many.
Through good deeds and acts of kindness, we bring to life the
“Great Commandment of Love”.
I make a commitment to be more loving, that I may always have
a loving heart and that others may “see” in us God’s great love.
4. Be grateful for my spiritual journey
Each evening, before I retire, I reflect on one moment of blessing —
ONE moment where I shared or experienced God’s great love.
I will experience a heart that is transformed,
and as I come to the Joy of Easter, what has this spiritual recipe created?
A grace-filled Lenten season, and a transformed, listening, loving, open heart.
Lent is a time of preparation for “new life” in Christ — our Easter message.
— Br. John is stationed at St. Anthony Shrine & Ministry Center in Boston, Mass., where he ministers in the Franciscan Center for Spiritual Direction. He is also a team member in the Shrine’s Franciscan Spiritual Direction Training Program. The previous reflection about reconciliation and joy was written by Frank Sevola, OFM.
Editor’s note: Friars interested in writing a reflection for HNP Today on a timely topic — a holiday, current event, holy day, or other seasonal themes – are invited to contact the HNP Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional reflections by friars can be found on the Spiritual Resources page of HNP.org.
- “A Time of Unselfish Fasting” – Feb. 7, 2018, HNP Today
- “St. Anthony Friars Can Deal with it all” – Oct. 9, 2017, Boston Herald
- “Are You Listening During Lent?” – March 4, 2015, HNP Today