Every year, I put together a stack of spiritual reading, bookmark an online retreat or two, and refresh my Liturgy of the Hours app. I eagerly await Ash Wednesday and anticipate the wonderfully enriching Lent I’m going to have this year. Sometime in the first full week my enthusiasm gets buried beneath all the ups and downs of daily life. Somehow I think I expect those things to go away so that I can focus on my spiritual growth.
Then sometime in the second or third week of Lent, God takes hold of my plans and reminds me of where my focus really needs to be. And not surprisingly it’s in dealing with all those harsh realities and even more, my own reactions to them. So now the real work of Lent begins. I might get back to the stack of books. And I’m definitely praying more, but it might not be the formal prayers of the Office.
The quote that really pulled all this together for me this year came, not surprisingly, from Pope Francis. In his homily for the feast of the Annunciation, he had this to say:
“He will not find us at the center of our certainties. That is not where the Lord looks. He will find us on the margins, in our sins, in our mistakes, in our need for spiritual healing, for salvation; that is where the Lord will find us.”
So now I’m setting forth into the real work of Lent. It’s never too late.