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Father Muench Says...

Helpful ideas for the Lenten season

March 4, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to share some things that help me during Lent. These are some ideas I shared with you a few weeks ago. I think it is a good pattern for some extra prayer during Lent – solitude, silence and surrender.

Lent is about allowing God some space. The best Lenten program will always be God’s plan for us. I believe God knows us so well and loves us so much that only God knows exactly what we need today. So, in a noisy, busy world we have to make some space for our God.

So, set aside a little time each day to be alone. In a simple, beautiful way, the Lord knows how to settle into our hearts and our minds when God can reach us. I know that it is important to have time to say some words and to read Sacred Scripture. It is important to celebrate and worship our God at Mass. However, I want to encourage you to set aside a quiet several minutes to allow God some space.

Often, I am asked what will happen. I must admit to you, I don’t know. I suspect sometimes nothing. Yet, our heart and our mind find such beautiful peace, a comforting, loving peace that is truly transformational. There are other times when something profound will touch us. More than once, I have been confused about what to write. Suddenly, in a time of solitude, the Lord fills my heart and my mind with all that I need.

Silence – Lent is a fine time to eliminate the senseless noise that touches us so many times a day. Silence can become a unique gift that relaxes this brain of ours. The purpose of Lenten silence is not to develop all sorts of ideas and thoughts to mull over, rather silence makes a space so that the Lord can find us. Again, it will always be a time of surprises. I notice the wonderful peace of silence when I have forgotten all about be silent and the noise of the world takes over. I realize that it is like losing control, losing the presence of the Lord, losing the Lord’s love.

Surrender – this is exactly what we are talking about when we allow silence and solitude a time into our lives. Jesus came to our world to demonstrate to us the passionate love that God has for us. The Gospels tell us of the times when Jesus went off by himself to find silence and to give himself an opportunity to place himself in the presence of the Father.

Surrender means that we give God His way, allowing ourselves to find God’s will for ourselves. I believe and I have experienced the power of allowing God the space to lead me and guide me. This is always a time of peace for me.

I remember often the Transfiguration of Jesus. I am certain you remember the story. Jesus invites Peter, James and John to walk up the mountain path, the path that I was allowed to walk up just a few years ago. At one point, the Gospel tells us that Jesus was transfigured before them, that somehow His appearance glowed before them. Everything about Jesus showed forth His divinity. He was seen by them to be talking with Moses and Elijah. We are then told that Peter did not want to leave this place. He wanted to stay there with the Lord always.

Our time of surrender to the Lord will not be as dramatic as for Peter, James and John, yet I believe in faith and confidence that the Lord truly is transfigured in our hearts and minds. Jesus becomes present to us when we make some space for the Lord.

So, it is Lent. I want to again remind you of our call this Lent to wake up. It’s time to wake up to God’s great Lord for us. To wake up to the fact that we are a loved people.

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