As we are about to begin another Lenten Season, I consistently recall other Lenten seasons and how I began them with such enthusiasm on Ash Wednesday to have a “good, fruitful and holy Lent,” only to discover that 20 days into the 40 days of Lent, I am just “coasting” to get through the rest of the season. I KNOW THAT I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS!
What happens to us at the mid-point of this great season of renewal in which we discern our relationship with Christ as His disciples, then often lose our “momentum” somewhere along the way, anticipating Easter with less and less drive and passion? By the time Passion Week arrives, where are we spiritually? Even as a pastor, I find myself falling or even failing in making my Lenten experience as enriching as I had hoped. So, I guess that’s my public confession.
This year, I have resolved to end that pattern and begin another Lent that calls for my discovering and recovering stewardship in this time of renewal. While this may sound like another Lenten resolution, this year, I pray it will be different. After all, it is a time to “firmly resolve, with the help of the Lord’s grace”…“to amend my life.” Those words say more than just concluding a familiar prayer. They tell us that, with God’s help, my life will be different. It may also be the solution to discovering or recovering my commitment to the stewardship way of life.
When I first embraced the spirituality of stewardship six years ago, I found a clear vision of the spirituality that fueled the discipleship I was called to live. I believe many of our parish members have as well. The call of discipleship is sounding loud and clear to every baptized person, regardless of age. As believers, our call rests in the desire of Jesus Himself to invite us to join Him in His mission. Obviously, to do so, one must begin with oneself, to prepare oneself or even repair oneself, before attempting to reach out to others with the message and the mission of Christ, done only with the help of God’s grace.
I believe there is a time to make a decision renewing our willingness to practice being a disciple of Jesus Christ through involvement or attendance at the parish level, in the home, in the workplace or at school. That happens each September at my parish — St. John the Apostle in Minot, N.D. — when, during our stewardship month, we discern and commit ourselves to the stewardship way of life. It is a key moment for each of us personally, for our parish, and for our community. That was six months ago.
Six months later, we find ourselves deep into the Lenten season. So, why not see this as a time and an opportunity to discover and recover what we thought we would do last September? It truly can be a time when we try to continue something we may have lost sight of with the passing of a mere six months. And isn’t that the meaning of the Lenten Season, in which the Church sets aside a specific period of time for us to work on improving our relationships with our Lord and one another? Lent is a time for a “spirituality tune-up.” Discovering or recovering the stewardship way of life can be the means to restoring our lives in Christ. It is an important and practical way to make our Lenten season good, fruitful and holy this year.
Reviewing a commitment made months ago may be a good start. Remembering why we were inclined to sign up for what we were willing to do with our time, talent and treasure the day we filled out a card is just as important. Something attracted us to do it then. Perhaps this Lenten season, we can recommit ourselves to do it again. I believe the Lord doesn’t just call us once and then waits for another year. By the grace of God, we are given all that we need to perform as true disciples. A sixth-month reminder can be a very good thing.
The stewardship way of life isn’t just an activity that happens one weekend out of the year. Let’s pray this Lenten season will find us not losing but gaining momentum in our spiritual lives. Understanding and practicing stewardship enhances our lives each day we discover and recover the importance of the call to discipleship. It is a call we can’t afford not to hear, no matter what time of the year it is.