Lent is not about prayer and fasting and almsgiving done apart from the friendship of our Lord, you know, to see how much we can do or to let it be seen how much we can do. Without our Lord, such wonderful things are detrimental exercises of self-congratulation.
Lent is about an increase of friendship with our Lord Jesus, Mary’s Son, also by way of prayer and fasting and almsgiving. We just gotta begin, carry out, and end any prayer, fasting and almsgiving in friendship with Jesus. Thus:
- Jesus, you know I don’t know how to pray as I ought. I fail in the very act of presenting myself to you, for, if I am not depending on your friendship, I present myself to you as if I were doing something good apart from you. Jesus, please, don’t merely help me to pray; kill me off to myself so that I live no longer for myself, but you live within me, with the Holy Spirit uniting me to the Father through, with an in you, with ineffable groans. – And then, in finding that the grace of this prayer, provided to us by our Lord, has drawn us before Him, we can be in humble thanksgiving, and have no hesitation to praise Him, adore Him, petition Him for our needs and those of the whole world.
- Jesus, you know what happens to me when I fast. I tend to be tempted to look at such weakness. Don’t just help me to fast, Jesus; kill me off to myself so that, living for you alone, with you living in me, I won’t look to myself, however much I know my weakness, but will rather look to you, not more intensely, as if this is something I had the capacity to turn on or off, but always more simply, being drawn by you, seeing your strength shining through my weakness. – And then, rejoicing in Jesus’ strength, will we let our weakness scream out that Jesus is the Victor, that His love is stronger than death, and we will rejoice that Jesus has our weakness work for us.
- Jesus, you know just how selfish I can be, and that if I do give alms, how tempted I am to count the cost. Jesus, don’t just help me to give alms, but so kill me off to myself that I will live only for you, with you living in me, loving neighbor as we love ourselves, loving neighbor because you love them and you give us the love to love you loving them. — And then, perhaps quite suddenly, we will not be after any good feeling or other self-serving rubbish (which is so boring that we will stop any prayer, fasting and almsgiving), but will rather rejoice that we find ourselves, by the grace of our Lord Jesus, in the family of faith, of His love. And we will know the goodness and kindness of His friendship!