Examine me O God and know my heart, test me and discover my thoughts, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23,24. The New Zealand Prayer Book, p.591).
Going to the doctor can be scary. We know that we may not feel too good. We make the appointment. We arrive and get checked in. The triage team gets our weight, takes our vitals, double checks our information. When the doctor finally comes in to see us and asks us what is going on, we may respond with “Oh I am fine.” At the moment of wanting to begin the process of getting the treatment to help us feel better (we hope); some of us immediately begin running away from whatever it is; because we do not want the physician to mess with us. The ill condition could be something we have put up with for a very long time. Just because the doctor prescribes a treatment program, does not mean we are all sold on following it to feel better.
The Season of Lent is about allowing ourselves to be examined by God. It is a forty day opportunity to let God look deep within us; and hopefully with our cooperation taking a look at what has been going on. “Now is the time of our salvation.,” writes St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2. I can be a procrastinator making excuse after excuse of why another time to spend with God on the shape my soul is in; just not this one. The Season of Lent is a time of grace, so that God and I (we) can do it together. It is time to make the decision to get to this thing called being a Christian and do it seriously and without a divided heart.
St. Benedict devotes one chapter in The Rule to a single season in the Church Year. Chapter 49 is about the observance of Lent. St. Benedict writes tells his monks that they are to add a little extra to the usual amount of prayer, reading and fasting to “look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.”
What is it that you spiritually long for as you begin the observance of Lent?
What are you inviting God to examine with you in your heart during Lent?
Lent is about remembering that what is there to be examined and cleansed, is something God knows about before we do. God wants to know if we are ready to contemplate seeing it from God’s point of view, and letting God love us there.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB