By Joe Tomaso
At the beginning of 2021…after indulging in many good things from pierogi, to my birthday cake, to rich Christmas desserts over the Holidays…I was putting on a favorite shirt and, well, it didn’t fit. “Hmmm…the dryer must be to blame for the newly snug fit of my shirt.” I said to myself. However, stepping on the scale confirmed that the dryer was not the culprit, and that it was time I took better care of myself.
We are now in Lent, a time when we “trim the fat” in our lives and simplify. But anyone who has tried to lose weight knows, it takes more than just cutting down on unhealthy things. When we think of Lent, often the first thing that comes to mind is “giving something up.” Chocolate (the classic resolution), TV, limiting video game play, etc. Why do we give things up? Does God just want us to be less joyful for 40 days? Of course not! We give things up, “trim the fat,” the excess, or the distractions in our lives in order to focus. Our lives are looking more and more like Times Square these days: loud, countless screens, ads, and YouTube videos…hustle and bustle. When we eliminate some of these distractions in Lent we are better able to listen. In the simplicity we can listen for God’s invitation. We can also hear the desires of our own hearts. I don’t mean the superficial desires like “I want Taco Bell, or “I want to watch Friends.” I am talking about deeper desires like who we want to be in this life, our need for love, meaning, and connection.
Hearing is different from listening. In order to listen more attentively to God and the desires of our heart over these 40 days, we need to be intentional, we need to focus. This takes more than giving something up. It takes positive action. Cutting back on the fat is good, but we need to exercise. We give up things for Lent, but to make the most of it, I invite you to take on something to help you focus, to be more intentional. Exercise the spirit, and removing the distractions will bear the most fruit. This can take many forms: time in solitude to focus on our breathing and to listen for God, journaling, reading the Bible, going for a walk, listening to music that helps us reflect, singing, and much more. God is ready, all we have to do is show up.
Be assured of my prayers, Saint Anne Family. May our journey through Lent bring intentionality, focus, and an openness to listen to our deep desires as well as God’s desires for us.
Your Fellow Disciple of Jesus,
Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry