Earlier this week I suggested that the arrival of the COVID-19 precautions gives us opportunity and reason to re-think and renew our Lenten practices and penances.
I’m reminded of a wise man who told me some time ago that every day he would prepare for dinner by pouring a G&T at 5.00pm. His Lenten penance was to delay the pour until 5.15! Thanks Owen for your refreshing example of creativity in sacrifice.
When Lent began we felt free to chose what to do and what not do for Lent. But things have changed a lot in the past five weeks. Our unexpected penance has been imposed from outside. To say that things have changed is an understatement to say the least.
Then for the past couple of days I have been suggesting that this lockdown provides an opportunity for growth.
The plan I have is not for a rigidly programmed lockdown with every moment filled with activity. That would also be missing the opportunity.
I found a good direction for my daily lockdown programme in today’s first reading:
The Godless … are misled,
their malice makes them blind.
They do not know the hidden things of God,
I’m writing this reflection at the end of the first NZ lockdown day and I can already see that without my usual work routines and recreational opportunities my life will be very different and could easily become dangerously undisciplined making me vulnerable to Godlessness.
Thats a risk for me since it means I could easily slip into apathy and sin missing the opportunity these weeks are offering, failing to notice the hidden things of God.
You have heard it said that the devil makes work for idle hands. Without revealing the details of my own personal experience of this I know this old saying to be true for me. I need some healthy order and discipline to support my desire for growth, keeping me focussed and leading me to greater maturity in faith.
At very least I have decided to increase the time I give to prayer, not a huge amount, but as a gentle retreat, taking five minutes here and there through the day on top of my usual prayer time.
I’m also planning to pray the Prayer of the Church (the Liturgy of the Hours) with greater passion, given that the psalms which are the heart of this prayer are especially suited to the difficult situation we find ourselves in for these weeks.
The Rosary is another prayer I’m enjoying as I walk as well as in other quiet moments.
So my new Lenten project in my “lockdown retreat” is to avoid the trap of the Godless and instead let go of all that blinds me so that I can become hypersensitive to “the hidden things of God”
- Make a decision to notice the presence and action of God every thought, every feeling, every memory, and every person who comes to mind. This decision, renewed whenever you think of it during the day, will become an habitual discipline and you will be surprised at how many encouraging examples you notice.
- Thanks Ellie for the LEGO artwork: Moses and some Israelites arriving at the Red Sea.