Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spiritual Exercises for Lent.

Many people think of Lent primarily as a time of renunciation and self-denial. The emphasis on fasting and abstinence that characterizes the season leads some to think of Lent merely as a time for "giving up," a time when Christians voluntarily renounce the enjoyment of some goods (certain foods, perhaps, or activities that one might ordinarily enjoy) as a sign of our commitment to the pursuit of the greatest good: union with God.

Personal sacrifice is an important part of this season, but there is much more to Lent than simply "giving up." As Father Alexander Schmemann wrote in his classic Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, Lent is "a school of repentance to which every Christian must go every year in order to deepen his faith, to re-evaluate, and, if possible, to change his life." This change may include giving some things up, but it should also include the embrace of new things - more time spent in prayer, for example, with the hope of more readily noticing the signs of God's presence and responding more readily to God's call.

If you're looking for new ways to deepen your prayer life during Lent, you may want to check out the Spiritual Exercises blog. Produced by my friend and former Ciszek Hall housemate David Paternostro and three other Jesuits - John Brown, Christopher Collins, and Kevin Dyer - this new blog provides daily Lenten meditations based upon the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Whether you've had some prior experience of the Exercises or are coming across Ignatian spirituality for the first time, the daily meditations featured on the Spiritual Exercises blog have much to offer you during your Lenten pilgrimage. Why not give them a try? AMDG.


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