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I Have a Game Plan
By Joan Lamar (Feb 9, 2016)
Lent has a way of creeping up on me and often arrives before I have a game plan. Maybe I'm too busy — the pace of my life can be relentless as I juggle a busy job with a considerable commute, a husband, three kids, a dog, and a home. Maybe it's the time we live in. There's always something calling to me. There's always something that needs to be taken care of.
But this Lent I am going to slow it down. And I am going to spend part of everyday this Lent with the Lord. And I will do this by spending more time in prayer.
I have been reading Fr. Michael Gaitley's book Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and in the book Fr. Michael helps us to reclaim the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I am probably oversimplifying this, but essentially the devotion to the Sacred Heart asks us to contemplate the wounds of Christ and console Him in His Passion.
"Behold this heart which loves so much yet is loved so little." These are the words Jesus spoke to Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. And these are the words that Jesus still speaks to us today, Fr. Michael explains, and it is our ingratitude and our indifference to Christ's suffering that hurt the Lord more than His Passion.
So, I thought, this is my plan for Lent. I am going to be close to Jesus. And I am going to stay with Him as He suffers and undergoes His Passion.
This Lent, I will go with Jesus to the Mount of Olives. I will watch Him as He withdraws to pray to the Father. I will pray with Him, and for Him, and ask the Father for mercy for His Son. I will watch Jesus as He prays. I will learn from Him when He says to the Father, "not my will but yours be done" (Lk 22:42). What is God asking me to surrender to the Father's will? I can examine the more difficult things in my life that I am avoiding and ask the Lord how I can embrace His will in those situations. And then try to do it. Hopefully, as I sit with Jesus and listen and learn, I, too, can say to the Father "not my will but yours be done."
This Lent, I will stand by Jesus when He is questioned by Pilate. I will watch as the crowds tell Pilate to condemn Him. I will cry as He is being scourged, but I will not turn my gaze from Him. As I think about the unfairness of the sentence, I will ask myself, "What more can I do in the concrete circumstances presented to me today to stand up for the innocent?"
This Lent, I will watch as Jesus is crowned with thorns. I will stay near Him. I will pray for the soldiers who are mocking Him. And I will pray for those who mock the righteous today. We see this kind of mockery in the political sphere, mostly on life issues. Am I willing to speak truth on critical controversial issues to anyone, knowing that I, too, will be mocked?
This Lent, I will join Simon of Cyrene and help Jesus carry His Cross. As I help the Lord with His Cross, I can think about who else in my life needs help carrying a cross right now. I think part of our problem in today's world is that we are so distracted or caught up in our own lives, that we don't see the suffering of others. This Lent, in this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I need to ask, who can I help, Lord? Then ask for the grace to respond when I see who the Lord has put in my path and what the need is, even if that need is great.
This Lent, I will go to Calvary. I will stand at the foot of the Cross with Mary and the Beloved Disciple as Jesus is dying. I will keep my gaze on Him as He thirsts and contemplate St. Faustina's words to Jesus, "Jesus, You alone know how the soul, engulfed in darkness, moans in the midst of these torments and, despite all this, thirsts for God as burning lips thirst for water" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 101)
I will stand with His Mother as her Son is dying a death that is the most brutal of all deaths. And as I ponder His tremendous suffering, I will witness a kind of love that renews. A love that loves to the end. And, I will ask myself, am I willing to love to the end, under the Cross? We, too, are asked to imitate this heroic love. We are called to love when it's difficult. We are called to this kind of love even when we can't see any return. This kind of love, this supernatural love, changes everything. This salvific love redeemed the world.
I think I have my work cut out for me this Lent. But if I can stick to this game plan, it will surely be a Lent that bears fruit.