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Give It a Rest!
We all hear certain words or phrases thrown around at Lent each year, such as:
• Works of mercy
And on. And on. And on.
Giving up. Adding on. Doing more. Doing without. Doing. Doing. Doing.
Here's an idea: rest.
It is, after all, one of the great primordial commands of the living God, a way to keep the Sabbath holy and to demonstrate our trust in God to provide.
Set aside your anxiety, your fear.
After all, Lent is modeled after the time Jesus spent in the desert: 40 days of fasting and prayer, all done at the driving insistence of the Holy Spirit. Spending 40 days and nights in the desert in fasting and prayer certainly wouldn't seem productive in the eyes of the world, now would it? It would truly be a time of rest in the Lord, of trusting God to provide, setting aside human efforts, focusing entirely on God, living in a supernatural way.
It's not idleness, though you certainly would not be doing anything visibly. It's not sloth — would Jesus have done something slothful? Indeed, it's a preparation for ministry, a time of testing, and of receiving all that the Holy Spirit would give.
So how can we live Lent as a time of rest?
Well, giving up our sins is a start. But how about also giving up extraneous tasks, little things that we fret and fuss over, that we lose peace over? How about trying to increase our time of peace and quiet, of just being still with the Lord, maybe with a good book on the spiritual life, or better yet, the Gospels? What about just sitting still in the evenings, not watching the TV or listening to music, but just — resting. Just being still.
It might lead to napping — that's all right. It might lead to prayer — even better. It might lead to discovering things going on inside you that you're not comfortable with, that you know need to change — all to the good! When we rest in trust in God, we open up room for Him to act, for Him to let us know what's going wrong in our hearts, as well as what's going right.
If, while doing this, we find we need to pray more, then devotions like the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary, or the Seven Sorrows Rosary may be very helpful.
In the midst of a culture obsessed with productivity and work, with resumes and certifications, with degrees and achievements, perhaps the greatest Lenten sacrifice available to many of us would be to make the heroic effort to make Lent a time of true rest, true stillness, listening in the quiet of our hearts for the Lord, searching the Scriptures and receiving the sacraments while sacrificing some of our driving busy-ness.
So for Lent, at least for a little while, give it a rest.
Lent Spirituality Series