How does one “prepare for Lent” in our current world? How might you quiet your life for forty days and be as if in the desert with Christ? What could Lenten preparations look like? These are the questions I considered as I began this reflection. As a mom, wife, teacher, and Catholic woman in today’s world, my life is hectic and my focus is often driven by the next prioritized event or deadline. If we’re being honest, I don’t have forty days to be consumed by a literal or figurative desert for prayer and quiet. But is that just the kind of reasoning that society is telling me? Where do I find God in the noise?
To more easily consider Lent this year, I broke it down into four categories of my life.
This Lent as a mom, I want to cherish the little joyful moments. My son is now three, and other parents may understand when I say that sometimes three is exciting and adorable, but other times it’s exhausting and I count down the minutes until bedtime. Children are the most wonderful blessing, but they are so much work too. I want to be playful with Vincent this Lent, I want to do less complaining or rushing him through things, and I want to cherish the little joyful moments.
This Lent as a wife, I want to be in solidarity with my husband as we try our best to support each other with Lenten sacrifices. For me, indulgence is an area where I want to work on sacrificing until Easter. It will be challenging, but it’s easier when you have someone beside you, helping you stick to a goal or a plan, and I know we can do this for each other. Forty days is a good time to get into better habits together and put our best feet forward for the Easter season.
This Lent as an educator, I want to intentionally pray for each of my students and their families. Having moved to teaching at a new school this year, I have new students and a new environment where I can share with children how precious they are. Although I’m not at a Catholic school, I can still treat each of my nineteen students with intention and consider them and their families throughout Lent.
This Lent as a Catholic woman, I want to add on quiet. This, for me, will look like turning off the radio for one whole commute to or from work a few times a week. During that time, I’ll sit with God and reflect: consider my actions, my gratitude, and my intentions for my day or my evening. I’ll try to avoid just picking up the phone to call someone and complain about a bad day or listening to music to drown out the day. I want to add on quiet.
Thinking back to my first questions, I still am going to find it difficult to be in quiet with God and not just find time but MAKE time for Christ. I really think that’s the difference: when we only have moments here and there to give, we’re not at peace. When we make time for Christ—schedule it into a calendar or create a time of the day for just us and God—we will feel and find his blessings that much more easily.
My challenge for you is to schedule time for God each week in Lent. Priorities will still be important and life will still be hectic and busy, but we can only sit with Christ in the desert for forty days. I wouldn’t want to miss that for anything in the world. My scheduled times with God for the next forty days will be: Tuesdays on my ride home from work, Saturday mornings for a few minutes before everyone is awake, Friday mornings on my way into work, and Sundays during the Gospel and homily when I can think and reflect on the Word in Scripture. I know I can achieve these four times each week, and I know it’s not too much for my to-do list. I’ve even added them to my calendar so I can’t forget.
We’re exhausted; Christ was too. We’re weary and burnt out; Jesus’ apostles were too. We’re calling out to our Heavenly Father, “Why have you forsaken me?” as Christ did (Mt 27:46). All you have to do is make time and be open.