Well, this Lent has been hard. Not that I have ever had an easy Lent since I started taking the spiritual life seriously, so I am not sure what I expected.
I think I selfishly wish that my Lent would be full of consolations and insights, but usually right around this time I start to feel deflated and a little less serious about my resolutions (hot chocolate isn’t really chocolate, right?).
The idealistic beginnings of this holy season have started to fade and I am beginning to wonder when Easter is going to arrive so I can drown my sorrows about my less than stellar Lent in a lot of jelly beans and Cadbury eggs. Basically I need a pre-Holy Week reboot.
I shouldn’t be so pessimistic, but I am sure some of you can relate. I think it is probably a typical strategy of our loving God to lift the curtain of our false selves during Lent and let us get a good, hard look at the person we wish we were not, the person Jesus really died for, not the person of our Facebook account profile or our LinkedIn resume.
Much of modern life is an attempt to escape who we are, to pretend that things really are not all that bad. But if we are serious about becoming better people, God will help us to see just how much we need his help.
This Lent has challenged me, but it has left me with a good question. It is a question that the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul, Blessed James Alberione, taught me to ask: Where is my heart directed?
It is kind of depressing how often I have responded to this question with something other than God this Lent. Sometimes I am focused on good things — my work, my family, my friends, my sisters — but other times I am focused on not so good things.
Either way, though, I am learning that God does not want half of my heart; he wants all of it. When our heart is dedicated to other things without putting God first, then all things suffer, even the good things.
So, this is the question that has been placed on my heart at the end of this Lent: Where is your heart directed?
What is yours?
Update: Pope Francis urges us to ask a similar question as we begin Holy Week. In the conclusion of his Palm Sunday homily he said we should ask ourselves this question throughout this Holy Week: “Where is my heart? To which of these people [in the Gospel account of Christ's Passion] am I most alike?”