Four Steps of Lent
(We will look at each of these over the next few days.)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “We cannot decide to become saints without a great effort of renunciation, of resisting temptations, of combat, of persecution, and all sorts of sacrifices. It is not possible to love God except at one’s own expense.” How this wisdom contrasts with the tenor of today’s culture, which urges us to have it all, do it all, and pursue it all! But, Mother Teresa’s words state what Jesus Himself instructs us to do: “Pick up your cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Lent is the perfect time for the struggle, and the desert fathers give us good instruction on how to do it – practice the virtue opposite the vice. If the struggle is with avarice or greed, practice generosity. If the struggle is with gossip and criticism, restrain the tongue. If the struggle is with sins against purity (pornography, unclean thoughts or desires, immodest dress), clean house: replace indecent thoughts with holy thoughts, change the wardrobe. Lent offers us the opportunity to put these debilities of the spirit to rest once and for all. At the end of forty days, we will have overcome a bad habit with a good one and Christ will be victorious in us.
Finally, make Lent an opportunity to confront some of the major obstacles and hindrances in our lives. Through the light of grace, face the truth of our situation. If we have an addiction to any substance or behavior, if we are living in a relationship that is outside of God’s laws, if we are abusive in word or deed, if we need inner healing, if we have been caught up in the occult, now is the time to break with it. God is giving us the grace; we need to cooperate with it. Seek the spiritual and emotional help necessary.