We are currently in the season that is formerly known as, "pre-lent." While I've been on social media it's been hard to not be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content telling us what we should do, buy, or pray. Don't get me wrong, I know that the purpose of all these posts, mine included, is to help get people thinking about how to really engage in Lent. There's nothing wrong with having options and many of us are eager to share that through products, lists, and creatively engaging posts. Yet, there is a message that has been missing and it's one that around this time I try to wholly embrace by taming my wired mind and easing my routine.
And That Message is This...
I want to tell you to slow down.
I want to tell you to do nothing.
To pause more.
To embrace those fleeting moments of silence.
How Can I Say This?
Intentionally think about what we are approaching and let's ready ourselves. Not ready ourselves for more things or what can so easily become spiritual clutter for the sake of what we deem to be liturgical living, or so that we have things to talk about on the internet, but for a real and true relationship with Jesus. I understand that you may be thinking, "I'm confused, you're entire mission is liturgical living, you yourself recommend these things in your own shop and posts." And yes, that is all true, I do find great value in opportunities that bring the faith into our homes. However, liturgical living, in its purest form, is living a life close to the sacraments. It's a life that day in and day out reflects the graces of those liturgical experiences and draws us into holiness and true friendship with Christ. If the things that we do or buy help us to accomplish that, than we should delve into those faith-filled experiences. But if they don't, we should not engage in them and we should simplify so that our liturgical life is about what is most important, Christ sacrificing His life out of love for us.
Let me share something from an experience I had several years ago that was brought back to my memory through all of the online Lenten buzz. That year we did a lot of extra things, ideas from social media manifested themselves beautifully in our home and it was to the detriment of what should be felt and known as the most impactful faith experience of our lives, Jesus' death and resurrection. Lent came and went and I was upset with myself for being so distracted by social media. I was left at the end of Lent staring up at Jesus from the foot of the cross frustratedly saying, "I didn't walk with you. I made Lent more about me, than about you and us!"
Use Pre-Lent as a Time for Spiritual Focus
Use the season of pre-lent to slow down so that we don't miss out on the fruitfulness that can come from Lent. The purpose of this short bout of time is to help us transition our spirits, minds, and emotions from our typical day to the way of the cross, and that doesn't just happen overnight. I truly wish, not just from a theological/liturgical stand point but from a practical stand point, that the Church still formally had this season. I say practically because as someone who does live liturgically, I look to the Church and the calendar for the cues. I await the changing liturgical and natural seasons and feast days to help me understand where I am in the life of Christ, Mary, and the saints so that I can adjust my lived experiences. Without this marker I see how easy it is for us to be thrust into Lent with a one day warning, Shrove Tuesday. So, in hopes to bring attention to the need for a preparatory time, I am inviting all of you as my friends to do just that, prepare.
We hear all the time this reference to Lent as a desert. If we take that as more than just a spiritual adage, then it should really give us pause. When I imagine myself entering into the desert, I don't think of all the things I'd pack to entertain myself, or what I'd bring to fill my day, I think of necessities! What do I need to help me focus on my walk through this place of suffering?
And so we put things into perspective and consider all of the resources, tools, products, etc. and think with a level of intentionality.
The Important Questions
What do I personally need for the journey?
What will draw me nearer to Jesus?
Is this thing that I am considering going to be a potential distraction?
Does this help me engage in a life of prayer?
How will this thing benefit my personal and familial Lenten journey?
Have I created any time for not doing anything but contemplating Christ's sacrifice?
Am I encouraging my husband, wife, and children to think about how much Jesus must love each of us personally to undergo such torment?
Are the activities, decorations, meals, community engagements, and purchases minimal and modest to reflect this season?
The Two Purposes
I write this post with two purposes in mind. The first is to make ourselves more aware of this pre-lenten season, which used to be called the 'gesimas, and remind us to not squander this brief time with too much planning and prepping. Give this time the meaning it deserves by slowly starting to remove the usual busyness of life. The second is to implore you with loving precaution to avoid frantically getting distracted by the many things that we can do, purchase, read, and attend. It can be really easy to see all that is being offered on social media and proceed to fill up our Lenten days with things that we think will help us. But in the end these things will only fill the space that we really need Christ to be in. Think about the questions that were posed, these are questions that I use on myself, and answer them honestly. Then proceed in action in a manner that reflects the ultimate goal of Lent, unity with Christ in a season of suffering.