“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”
While Pope Francis reminds us it is a time to let God reshape us, Pope Benedict once described Lent as a “long retreat”. Both ideas are certainly opportunities for transformation.
Think of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly. One day the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down on a branch or twig, and spins itself a cocoon. Within this protective casing the caterpillar over several weeks is radically transformed, eventually emerging as a beautiful butterfly.
Is it possible that we too can be reshaped and transformed during the weeks of our Lenten retreat? Yes, of course it is! It is exactly what God wants for us at this time.
Sometimes we get caught up in what I’ll call the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law, when it comes to Lent. God simply calls us to get quiet like the caterpillar and spend time listening within. God will give you absolutely everything you need for your transformation. When chaos is swirling, you may want to imagine God placing a shield around you, protecting you from all the outside distractions. All the while he is initiating change from the inside out.
How do we know things are transforming within:
We pay attention to things we are attached to, and will feel the desire to convert each attachment toward a holier and healthier focus.
We listen more closely to those around us. We will not only hear them, our hearts will read between the lines.
We will make time for prayer and meditation, giving up old excuses. Silence will become a friend.
We will notice the gifts each day presents. We will truly be grateful for the simple treasures of our life. We will find ourselves saying, “Thank you” more often.
We will challenge lapsed spiritual habits, finding ourselves making choices that improve our conscious contact with God.
Fasting will not be about personal gains, but rather will focus on sacrifice and giving, even though it hurts a bit. We will feel the pinch and remember what has been sacrificed for us.
We will be the light we wish to see in the world.
The butterfly evolves and transforms by letting God guide its process. Spiritual transformation cannot be done alone. If we let God do the work that needs to be done inside of us, perhaps then, we will see ourselves waking up from our lethargy.