Just imagine that this Lent is going to be different from every other Lent we've experienced. Imagine that there will be many graces offered us this year. Let's even imagine that God is going to help transform our lives, with greater freedom, greater joy, and deeper desires for love and service.
Preparing our hearts is a process of preparing our desires. This means practicing our sense of anticipation. If we imagine Lent as an "ordeal" or a time to dread in some way, then we've already pre-disposed ourselves to not get very much out of it. These days before Lent are a time to start anticipating something wonderful that is about to happen.
Our sense of excitement and anticipation will grow more easily if we begin to imagine what God wants to give us. There is something coming that we can truly look forward to. If we get too focused on ourselves and what we are going to do or not do, we could risk missing the gift God wants to give us. We have to keep aware of the fact that grace comes from God. This is about God's great desire to bless us. With this mindset, it is easier for us to imagine that what we really want to do is place ourselves in a space to receive what God wants to give us.
We receive God’s gifts as body-persons. We experience things with our senses, relish them with our imaginations, and share in God’s own creative and loving activity when our hearts and hands work together for and with others.
We can let our homes be places full of the holy – things that help raise our minds and hearts to God. Our world is full of so many images that lure our minds and hearts elsewhere. Some symbols will carry the ongoing meaning we give them, for us and for our families and loved ones.
We can make sure that we have a crucifix in a central place in our home during Lent. A bowl of water on our dining room table can be transformed into a reminder of our preparing to renew our baptismal promises. A candle can be lit at each meal to remind us of the light of Christ among us in Lent and to prepare us for the new fire being lit at the Easter Vigil. Placing a Bible in a central place in our home reminds us of the central place of God’s Word in our lives on this Lenten journey.
This year’s Lent can be different. It will take an openness to God’s grace, a deep desire to receive what is being offered us, and a few signs and symbols to help us stay focused throughout the season. But if we do these things, God’s desire for our hearts and our desire for greater union with God will meet. Lent will no longer feel like a burden, but rather a blessing.
This is from Praying Lent by Andy Alexander, SJ, and Maureen McCann Waldron.