Pope Benedict XVI wrote a wonderful message for us to encourage our deep conversion during Lent 2011 (for the full text visit the Vatican website here. As this season of sacrifice and penance comes to an end, I pulled a section from the end of his Message to use as a reflection. The section is broken apart to help us reflect more deeply on the words and how they apply to our lives today. Pope Benedict XVI’s words are italicized.
A Deep Conversion
“In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death,” so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives;”
Lent is a time that we are to experience a “deep conversion” a deep change. Have we experienced a deep change this Lent?
Transformed by the Holy Spirit
“…that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus;”
This is a pretty profound transformation our Holy Father is describing. St. Paul on the road to Damascus was knocked of his horse, blinded, and led by the hand to those he used to persecute. Are we willing to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our life, to heal our wounds?
Oriented Towards God
“…that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God;”
Are there forms of entertainment that we enjoy but know are displeasing to God?
Let Go of Ego
“…that we may be freed of our egoism,”
Are there parts of the Catholic faith that we disagree with, thinking we know better than what some of the best and brightest over the last 2000 years have studied and explained for us? Do we bristle when someone fails to recognize our efforts in a volunteer project?
Give Up Control
“…overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ.”
Do we forgive those who disagree with us, annoy us in some way, or insult us? Do we pray for them?
Recognizing Our Weakness, Accepting God’s Mercy
“The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.”
Our ability to receive God’s mercy is in large part dependent upon our willingness to request and accept it. We do this by admitting our weaknesses, confessing our sins, and pointing out our wounds to God in the same way that a sick man points out his symptoms to a physician. He is waiting to pour out His infinite mercy for us, to heal our emotional wounds, to forgive the bad things we have done, to help us grow in the virtues that will bring us peace and joy. We must make the decision to “walk resolutely towards Christ.” Sometimes it is big steps, most often it is little steps.