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Your Lenten pick-me-up

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Our Lenten journey at times can go something like this: You start out Ash Wednesday as a proverbial house on spiritual fire, with detailed plans and resolutions. Then about midway through the 40 days, you might hit a wall or find that some goals have not yet materialized as hoped. It can be dispiriting. Then you recover and realize the promise of this season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, in time for Easter.

The Catholic Herald’s cover story, “A booster shot for 40 days,” by Leslie Miller offers inspirational approaches that your fellow Catholics across the diocese are taking now. We hope it helps you break through that wall and get over the hump this season.

To paraphrase seminarian David Witherow’s column from the Feb. 25 CatholicHerald (“In pursuit of sourdough”), sometimes the journey can be as meaningful as the destination itself. Indeed, God’s inspiration can arrive at the least expected moments.

I was reminded of this lesson lately in my home life. Recently, I started running again, after a long hiatus. It was very humbling at first to start from scratch. No hill was small enough, yet I kept at it and found greater fulfillment. Like prayer or anything else, it became easier and easier with time and practice. Soon the daily routes grew longer.

Then, just as I could cover 4 or 5 miles a day no problem, Lent arrived, and with it, my abstinence from any electronic entertainment. Uh-oh. No hard-driving music to power over that next hill. The Foo Fighters don’t learn to fly, AC/DC is not back in black or any other color and even Bob Dylan won’t riff on something philosophical to pass the time.

Instead, as the adage goes, when God closes a door, he opens a window. In this case, new inspiration. Despite my fears, without music I found new and deeper ways to appreciate the routine and my fellow man. 

-- More time to finish the morning prayers, instead of rushing through them.

-- More awareness to admire the sounds of nature, where previously I harped on the squirrels and birds that dig up the yard or litter the car.

-- Pass a school limited to virtual learning (pray for its reopening and thank God for the work of Catholic schools).

-- Hear the approach of a city bus or garbage truck (wave hello — thanks for your service).

-- Notice more vividly the hospital on the corner (offer prayers for the sick).

Even the simple shuffling of footsteps developed into a calming rhythm, like the cadence of reciting a rosary.

To be clear, our journey continues. Those more fleet of foot still pass me by, and that’s OK. And, undoubtedly, some of your Lenten experiences are more profound than the simple anecdote offered here.

So keep the faith. Look out for that unexpected inspiration. And may the Lenten booster shot and other stories in this issue spark new ideas and practical steps to apply to your own journey toward Easter joy.

Schweers is the executive editor of content for the Catholic Herald. He can be reached at editorial@catholicherald.com


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021