LENT in lockdown is perhaps enough penance for any of us. Living through a pandemic brings huge challenges, not just physically but also emotionally and, indeed, spiritually. Many find comfort and hope by nourishing our spiritual lives. Lent is an opportune time.
‘But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you’ (Matthew 6:6)
One of the most important parts of true prayer is that it takes place deep in the inner room of your soul. It is there in the inner depths of your being that you will meet God. St Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest spiritual writers in the history of our Church, describes the soul as a castle in which God dwells. Meeting Him, praying to Him and communing with Him requires that we enter into the deepest and innermost chamber within this castle of our soul. It is there, in the innermost dwelling, that the full glory and beauty of God is discovered.
God is not just a God who is ‘out there’ far away in Heaven. He is a God who is closer and more intimate than we could ever imagine. Lent is a time, more than any other time of the year, when we must strive to make that journey inward so as to discover the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity.
What does God want of you this Lent? It’s easy to begin Lent with more superficial commitments, such as giving up a favourite food or doing an extra good deed. Some choose to use Lent as a time to get in better physical shape, while others decide to dedicate more time to spiritual reading or holy exercises. All of this is good and useful. But you can be certain that the deepest desire of Our Lord for you this Lent is that you pray.
Prayer, of course, is much more than saying prayers. It’s not only saying the Rosary, or meditating upon scripture, or reciting beautifully composed prayers. Prayer is ultimately a relationship with God. It’s an encounter with the Triune God who dwells within you. True prayer is an act of love between you and your beloved. It’s an exchange of persons: your life for God’s. Prayer is an act of union and communion by which we become one with God and God becomes one with us.
The great mystics have taught us that there are many levels to prayer. We often begin with the recitation of prayers, such as the beautiful prayer of the Rosary. From there we meditate, ponder and reflect deeply upon the mysteries of Our Lord and His life. We come to know Him more fully and, little by little, discover that we are no longer just thinking about God, but we are gazing at Him face to face.
As we begin the holy season of Lent, reflect upon your practice of prayer. If the images of prayer presented here intrigue you, then make a commitment to discover more. Commit yourself to the discovery of God in prayer. There is no limit and no end to the depth to which God wants to draw you through prayer. True prayer is never boring. When you discover true prayer, you discover the infinite mystery of God. And this discovery is more glorious than anything you could ever imagine in life.
Feel warmly welcome to join with me for daily reflections during Lent on my facebook account.
I will turn
(a daily prayer for Lent)
***Lord, I will turn,
Turn my face towards you.
I will lay before you the desert areas I hide
And turn to soak in your refreshing words of life.
I will cast aside the barren, selfish pursuits
And turn to rest in the tranquil warmth of your love.
I will draw back from the harsh pull of media
And turn to bathe in the gentle power of your spirit.
Lord, today I turn my face towards you.
I will turn
To soak in your words of life,
To rest in the warmth of your love,
And to bathe in the power of your spirit.***