I feel pretty confident in saying that for a large number of people “Lent” is synonymous with “giving something up.” On Ash Wednesday the only question Catholics ask more than “what are you giving up for Lent?” is “what time is Mass?”

While the tradition of sacrificing from something during Lent is practice that certainly should be honored, what if there was something more to it? What if the season of Lent calls us to go on a great adventure? Or maybe it calls us to find romance? Or maybe accomplish the greatest human achievement? Or maybe all three? Now I must say, when I think of the season of Lent I don’t necessarily think any of these things. But who says this can’t be what Lent is all about? After all the season of Lent is all about returning to God (Jl 2:12), we might as well make that return an unforgettable journey; a great adventure that leads us to an intimate love and over-whelming fulfillment. And along the way maybe, just maybe, we can discover how God is calling us to live our life and who God is calling us to be.

Love, Seek, Find

Before any journey can begin you have to know what you’re getting yourself into; you have to prepare. This journey is no different. I’m reminded of St. Augustine of Hippo who said, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” Let this be our goal for Lent: to fall in love with God, to seek God, and to find God.

Love Him: This seems easy enough, we tell God we love Him, we love His Church, the Scriptures, the Sacraments, sure. But how can we really deepen our love for God? By loving His people. Victor Hugo wrote that “to love another person is to see the face of God.” To love the human person is to love God. We do this through humble works of compassionate mercy. By giving of our time, talent, and material treasure we will come to fall in love with those we are serving and therefore, the God who created them. Every single one of us is called to serve and love the people of God in a unique and important way. This Lent may you discern how God may be calling you to love and serve His people and may you respond generously and wholeheartedly.

Seek Him: The search for God is a pursuit that has led Christians and non-Christians alike on incredible and life changing adventures for centuries. Perhaps the most famous quest to find God belongs to the saint we mentioned earlier, St. Augustine of Hippo whose restless heart was finally stilled by the grace of God. One of the most profound moments of St. Augustine’s conversion came when he picked up and read a verse from Romans that says, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom. 13:14) It became very clear to Augustine that in order to find God, he must stop seeking worldly pleasures. The same could be said for us today. We all have our favorite worldly vices and sins that we like to indulge in that we should give up (sound familiar?) in order to focus our attention on seeking out God. The key is to discern what those things are, and remove them. This Lent may you give up seeking out those things that are temporary and enthusiastically seek out what is eternal.

Find Him: This is probably the easiest and hardest part of our journey. After all nothing that is considered the “greatest human achievement” should be easy. So how, or where do we find God? In prayer. By opening our hearts to God in prayer we allow Him to enter into our life in an intimate way. Finding God in our prayer is what gives us the strength to love His people and the perseverance to continue to seek Him every day of our life. It seems so simple but often times our prayer life falls to the wayside as we move through our daily routine.  This Lent may you discern how you can improve your prayer life so that you may find God in new and intimate ways.

Dangerous Business

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “It’s a dangerous business, going out of your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” This return journey is not an easy one. There will be low valleys and high mountains. By keeping your faith in Christ and by the grace of the Holy Spirit you will find the greatest romance, you will have the greatest adventure, and you will accomplish the greatest human achievement. Through it all God will be working with you and through you so that you may become who He created you to be.