We enter Lent each year with good intentions. We make our Lenten sacrifices; we plan to pray more often and to engage in daily Lenten readings from Scripture; we intend to work on bad habits that undermine our spiritual life. Yet after a couple of weeks, we're struggling to hold on to just one or two of our Lenten resolutions. The best laid plans of mice and men . . .
That is why it is so important to take some time before Lent begins to think our goals through thoroughly. There's no harm in starting out smaller and, as Lent progresses, adding to our Lenten discipline. We can set priorities: These are the things I intend to do every day during Lent (for example, say the Rosary or read from Scripture); these are the things I will try to do at least once per week (perhaps spend a few minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament, or go to Mass on another day in addition to Sunday); these are the things I will do at least once (go to Confession).
Making such a plan allows us to seize the moment as opportunities present themselves. My luncheon meeting was canceled, but there's a noon Mass at the church five minutes away. I had to work late this evening, but my route home takes me past the cathedral, where they hold Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every Tuesday night. Oh, and a priest is offering Confession during Exposition, too.
With a little forethought now, before Lent begins, we may find that, come Good Friday, this Lent was more spiritually fruitful than usual.
(The Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan, is the world's largest crucifix. The bronze Corpus is 28 feet tall and weighs seven tons. Completed in August 1959, it was declared a national shrine by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on September 15, 2006. Photo © Scott P. Richert)