At this time of year, we ask each other: “what are you giving up for Lent?” Replies vary with people mentioning drink or chocolates etc. A little penance is never a bad thing. But there’s another aspect to Lent – we need to ask ourselves: “what am I doing for Lent?” in the sense of taking some step in my personal life that will lead me to a deeper relationship with God and with others around me.
I’ve been struck by Pope Francis’ message for Lent. He reminds us that God is interested in each of us. God’s love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. But it’s easy for us to slip into an indifference at several levels – about God, about others, about ourselves. Pope Francis speaks about “a globalization of indifference” in our world today. It is “a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.”
Take charities, for instance. There has been so much controversy about how some charities are run that, without realising it, we might all have become a little more indifferent to charities. Why not consider giving more to charities this Lent? The Catholic Church’s agency, Trócaire, is well worth supporting but there are many others too. The important thing is not to be indifferent to the needs expressed through those charities.
So, this Lent, as well as asking “what are you giving up for Lent?”, let’s ask ourselves: in what way have I become indifferent and withdrawn into myself? In what way have I or my family, my parish or organisation become self-sufficient and forgetful of others? And decide to actively do something to wake myself up out of indifference.
The season of Lent will occur twice during our preparations for the Diocesan Synod. Since conversion – personal, ministerial and ecclesial – is at the heart of the Synod, these occasions for renewal are particularly important. Entrusting the weeks ahead to Mary our mother, let’s ask for a special grace of deep conversion as we begin Lent.