Today, Ash Wednesday, begins our season of penance and fasting. My wife Suzanne has been asking, and I’ve been pushing myself, on “What I’m going to do for Lent this year”.
Yesterday, Pope Francis tweeted a suggestion:
During Lent, let us find concrete ways to overcome our indifference.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) February 17, 2015
Okay – let’s give that one some serious thought.
noun in·dif·fer·ence \in-ˈdi-fərn(t)s, -f(ə-)rən(t)s\
: lack of interest in or concern about something
About what am I indifferent? Not much. I have “interest in or concern” for a lot of things, particularly in current events and issues. Perhaps a better question would be how I might be able to take more concrete action on some of these things, and lead my family in doing so.
It’d be a big step to carve out some time during Lent to do one of more of the following:
- Write one of my representatives a letter – a real, bona fide letter – about an issue facing our city, state, or nation.
- Make a significant and sacrificial contribution to a person or an organization that can make a substantial difference in someone’s life.
- Speak up and share news and information with friends about an important current issue.
- When the Spirit is compelling me to stop and talk with, or help, another person, actually take a moment and do it.
A more realistic “Day 1 First Step” for me would be to be more diligent and deliberate in keeping my “Prayer Journal” up-to-date with all of the requests for prayers that come my way and the issues and items that cross my mind to pray for, and then actually praying for them a few times each day.
That’ll be Concrete Way #1, and we’ll see where it leads me. Concrete Way #2 should make itself apparently fairly quickly.
Maybe cutting through indifference in any form will help me love other people even more… and, in turn, love God even more.
Yes, I’ll be doing a “Lenten thing” too: The typical give-something-up exercise of self-denial. But I hope that adding this conscious, prayerful effort to “find concrete ways to overcome [my] indifference” yields an even more fruitful Lent for me this year.
“When you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites.”
Here’s to this 40 day journey together. I hope yours is a good one!
P.S.: Gentlemen, here’s another great resource with some ideas for a fruitful Lent.