Your Mid-Lent Checkup in 5 Steps
It’s hard to believe that Lent is already more than halfway over—Palm Sunday is only nine days away. At this point, we’ve had the respite of both the Annunciation and Laetare Sunday. Now, we’re in the home stretch as we look ahead to Holy Week. So, how has your Lent been going?
We are told time after time that Lent is about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on just one of these things and letting the others fall by the wayside—or to get so overwhelmed by our Lenten commitments that we stop them altogether. During these final weeks of Lent, it is a good time to think about your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving not as a checklist, but as essential ways to reach the true objective of Lent: to grow in your relationship with Jesus.
If you have been neglecting your spiritual health this Lent or have forgotten the real reasons for your sacrifices, the good news is that God is merciful and always wants to lead you back to Himself. It’s not too late to put your whole heart into Lent. Whether you have been successful or struggling, try this examen, adapted from St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Daily Examen, to see how you have done so far and what you can do to improve leading up to Easter.
Step 1: Be still and pray
Give yourself time, space, and silence. In this environment, let yourself become aware of God’s presence in your life and in that moment. Once you have done this, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you through the examen and allow you to see with clarity.
Step 2: Thank God
Think back on Lent so far, either week by week or day by day. In what ways has God blessed you? Think critically and allow yourself to find the blessings in situations that might surprise you. Have you struggled to keep your Lenten promises? Recall the times that God has led you back to them and think about how struggles and failures are helping you to grow in faith. Finally, thank God for the season of Lent, which gives us the opportunity to renew ourselves in His love each year.
Step 3: Review your Lent
Once more, think back on your Lent. Get as granular as you can, going day by day if possible. What did you do each day? Where did you feel God leading you? When did you follow Him, and when did you forget Him? When did you put other interests first? Were there occasions when God was nudging you in a certain direction, and you are only just realizing it now? Think about all the areas of your life, not just your prayer life. Where have you seen God working in interpersonal relationships? At work? In your home? On the street?
Step 4: Ask for forgiveness
If you have failed, fallen short, or neglected to listen to God at any point during Lent, ask God for forgiveness. God’s mercy will give you the grace to move on and face new situations with a heart that is fresh and renewed in Him. If possible, go to Confession, especially if you have not been yet this Lent. Expressing your sorrow and accepting God’s forgiveness is essential for a prayerful approach to the rest of Lent.
Step 5: Resolve to improve
With the grace and guidance given to you by the Holy Spirit in this prayer, decide that you will go into the final weeks of Lent with renewed devotion. Have faith that God will give you the courage and grace to spend the rest of this season doing what He wants from us—to grow in love for Him and our neighbors.
Venerable Bruno Lanteri, founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, adopted the phrase “Nunc Coepi,” or “Now I Begin,” to guide his life. Following Ven. Lanteri’s example, let us begin again this Lent with prayerful hearts.