Lent is about changing. The Sacred Scriptures of this holy season have a loud clamor to change. And without a doubt, all of us want to change. Deep down we want to change. We know that it is only by embracing change can we touch the center of the Lenten Season. The challenge is: “how much are we really willing to fundamentally change?”
The clients who come to my office for spiritual direction or for therapy say they want to change. But they just do not know how to change. They are often afraid to change. They feel stuck. They feel stagnant. They do not feel strong enough to embrace and sustain innovations in their lifestyles. Change is threatening for them.
Some think it is better to sit tight than try to improve their relationship with God or with themselves and others. They feel impossibly mired in a chronic condition of addiction. Or they could be stuck in a chronic repetitive self-defeating pattern.
These clients feel so stuck and trapped in their patterns that they do not believe they can change. They do not believe that profound change is even possible. They fear that even if somehow they manage to change, it cannot be sustained.
At the same time, deep down in their souls they know that some reorganization or transformation must take place at the core of their beings. On the one hand, they want to change. Then on the other hand, they wonder why they have to change. So, for many, anchoring real change seems as illusive as running the Philadelphia marathon.
Lent is very much about letting go of bad habits. It is about letting go of our negative beliefs. It is about letting go of our frozen emotional patterns. Are we willing to be liberated? Are we willing to let go of our chronic patterns of warped thinking, feeling, acting and interacting?
Unless we change our distorted beliefs, we are powerless to full-blown change. We need to unleash the self-defeating beliefs. We need to dislodge the beliefs that are woven into the fabric of our lifestyle. They are the bedrock of our conditioning as children.
Lent says loudly to us that stagnation is not an option. The luxury of being fearful and stuck is over. Embrace the opportunity to be born anew. There is no choice but to change. Neither can the ego be smugly satisfied with superficial change.
The higher self requires that we change anything that interferes with our ability to connect with God. God is in our flesh. God will continue to love us at the end of time. God lives in us. We live in God. This is the essence of our spiritual life.
Lent is centered on the moment we issue an intention to change. That is when the Divine energy is set in motion to bring about transformational change in our lives. Surely, persisting and attending to the call to change is at the core of the Lenten Season.
Change is what the spiritual life is about. Changing often is at the heart of the spiritual path. We cannot change other people. However, we can work with the Divine to change ourselves. With our cooperation, change will come to us with grace and with discipline.
We believe change will come because God is at work in us. We are in the hands of God. God is shaping us. That requires our response and our willingness to constant change. We are called to remain open to God’s grace and energy. Then, with our change of heart, we can grow. Our hearts can enlarge and stretch. Our vision can expand and swell. We can say, “He is Risen!”
Msgr. Thomas J. Morgan is pastor of St. Mary Parish and St. Thomas More Parish, Cherry Hill.
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