THE SACRIFICE IN LENT
Read Time: 5 minutes
We are often told that Lent is sacrifice, and that it will help prepare us for Good Friday and Easter. We hear that the bit of pain we feel when we forgo something that we’ve “given up” for Lent helps put us in solidarity with others who have much less, or in fact, nothing.
These are good things; they are truths we need to consider.
But along with “giving up” something, equally worth considering is the idea of “adding to”.
I wonder, what does God desire of me — what is most precious to God…and to us?
God is love (1Jn 4:8,16).
Love is relationship.
Relationship is time together.
God desires our time, and our attention — so that God can heal and lead us further into the way of love.
If there is a sacrifice that God wants, it is the “sacrifice of our time”. Time spent with God — prayer, meditation, contemplation…healing.
There is an important place for words — prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and praise are essential to us and our relationship with God.
There is also an equally important place for adding silence.
The noise and busy-ness of activity is necessary for our work and survival. It can also be a powerful distraction.
God seems to work best in silence. In fact, our silence is our attention — God’s love teaches and heals best when God has our attention.
When our inner and our outer lives are not in balance, life is skewed. We may not realize it, but we are not all we can be — not all that God calls us to be.
The healing of our heart and our psyche cannot take root in noise and activity. Our soul longs to return to rest in God, to be immersed and engulfed in God’s life-giving love and peace.
God’s healing is born of peace, and peace is the fruit of healing. This spiral penetrates the layers of our hurt until it finds rest in the seed of love that God planted in us. There and only there is it nourished and tended. There, is where the seed grows and bears it’s fruit in our lives. There, is the source of God’s light in us.
The silence of meditation and contemplation is difficult for us. Our mind is created and designed to think — and it is constantly at work. Even in our sleep our unconscious mind is busy through our dreams.
The silence of prayer is not the banishing of all distractions — it is the channeling of our thought into God…and the gentle return of ourselves to God when the inevitable distractions pull us away.
This dynamic is not ‘The Struggle’ — it is not about wrestling with ourselves to achieve ‘purity of thought’. The old adage of “we feed what we fight” bears its truth through our inner conflict.
Silent prayer lives in the gentle return to silence from the distractions our mind will draw us to.
To paraphrase Fr. Anthony DeMello SJ: We do not control the birds that fly overhead; we do have something to say about what nests on our head.
For those interested in learning more, Fr. Thomas Keating OCSO, among others, is well worth listening to, especially for background and guidance in the way of silent prayer.
An introductory prayer for those looking to try silent prayer; may it help settle mind and mood for the prayer time…
Paradox of God
I come to You,
who is everywhere.
I turn to You,
who is within me.
My ears listen,
for Your silent voice.
My eyes search,
for Your gaze that never leaves me.
My soul opens,
to Your healing presence.
My heart rejoices,
in Your saving grace.
My being rests,
in simply being.
So that I may free myself,
So that You may be born again
So that I may be born again