Lent is a Time to Pick a Side

What would happen if you lived the next forty days intensely for Christ? Lent is an important time and planning it out well is worth a shot.

Look back at the last forty days of your life. You can whip out your phone and check out your calendar, or you can take a few moments to think back and see your life over the course of the last forty days.

What have you done? How much have you lived for Jesus and how much have you lived for yourself?

Lent commemorates the forty days Jesus was fasting and praying in the desert. Who else was in the desert? The Devil was there. So this means that we can think of our living of Lent as basically time that we are accompanying Jesus or the Devil. We have to pick sides. Who are you going to choose?

 

Look back at the last forty days once again. How often have you picked Jesus and how often have you picked the Devil? Be honest, straightforward, even brutal with yourself. It’s okay. You probably have to admit that you have not been so perfect. Even if you like to identify yourself as a Christ-follower, you have probably had quite a few bumps on the road.

How do we know when we have chosen the Devil? This happens when we get our own way. It can be hard for us to take this head-on, as we have been trained by the culture to always try to get our own way. But this is precisely what the Devil is looking for. There are no chapels for adoration of the Devil, but what he really wants is for us to choose our own will over God’s will. For in this, we imitate his own mistaken decision.

If we look carefully at the past, we will see that it is often riddled by these bad and selfish decisions. We have often cut short our prayer time in order to mindlessly scroll through social media. We hit buttons to “like” posts on social media, but perhaps in our prayer there was no moment when we spiritually gave a “like” to the message God was leaving to us at that precise moment.

Do you know something awesome about the past? It does not have to determine the future. And our God is a god who is really good about living “today”. He does not get hung up on our past failings. He wants our future success stories.

So, if you have to look back and recognize some rough stuff from the past, don’t worry. God is not keeping tabs on you constantly, saving up negative things he can use to accuse you and destroy you. Your life is more than your mistakes, and God knows this. God wants to restore you.

Jesus went to the desert, and following the prophet Joel, we look at Lent as time for prayer, sacrifice and giving. God wants to lead us through our own desert during the next forty days. He wants us to say “no” to the distractions, mistakes, and sins that have turned our gaze away from him in our recent past.

So when you are choosing your Lenten sacrifice, it is important to ask God, “what desert do you want for me?” This is because what we know for sure is that God is waiting at the other side of the desert if we are willing to cross it faithfully and in a determined manner.

What would you have to do in order to live intensely for Christ? It might not be as difficult as it sounds. You will definitely want to be looking for prayer and sacraments. Something that always amazes me when I listen to Protestant preachers (one of my secret pleasures) is that they are always exhorting the flock to look for a quiet place where they can be alone with God. The same thought always pops into my head: “Blessed Sacrament Chapel.” It is something we have built into our Catholic culture, thanks be to God.

So, if you really want to live forty days intensely for God, I would suggest to go visit an adoration chapel. This is a great place to look to build an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Take some time, listen to God, and ask Him what He wants for Lent. He wants the next forty days to be a lot better than the last forty days. This is made possible by your good choices each and every day.

You basically have a choice between Jesus Christ and the Devil. They are both looking to spend time with you. Where are you going to end up? Forty days lived intensely for Christ can make all the difference.

image: Dom J / Pexels

Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LC

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Fr. Nicholas Sheehy is a priest of the Legionaries of Christ. He has pastoral experience both in the United States and abroad, especially in El Salvador and Germany. He has worked especially with adolescents and young people. He is currently serving on the formation team of the Legion of Christ seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut.

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