The end of Lent seems to have suddenly come upon us, maybe because this year I have the privilege of caring for two parishes, and also brushing up on Canon Law in preparation for my departure for Rome in a few short months.
As we begin the even more intense prayer and fasting of Holy Week and the Triduum, we are to take stock and examine our hearts to see whether our Lenten journey has borne fruit. If you find that you are left wanting in what you had hoped to accomplish, take heart – you’ve done Lent well, and even done a good examination of conscience. By our own efforts we cannot accomplish what is necessary – we need God’s grace through the sacrifice of Christ.
C.S. Lewis had some powerful thoughts about this:
“Yes, we may be frustrated by how God works, but if we really understood Him, He wouldn’t be God. A God that we can grasp totally and pull into our hands is a God that can be manipulated to what we want Him to be, and that is no God at all. The continual restlessness of our lives is the struggle to grow closer to a God that we cannot comprehend. This is not a fruitless struggle, this is not a power struggle where God plays games with us, but the very fact that we are never to find total fulfillment in our lives on earth shows that we are not made for this world, but for another.”
When we struggle in prayer, we struggle with God and ourselves. In that struggle, we must trust that God will lead us where he knows we need to go. The way might be surprising to us, we may feel that we are not even advancing. God wants us to trust Him, to call Him Father and place our hope in Him. He understands that we don’t understand. Our frustration itself reveals God and his work in our life to us.
Take heart, and continue the struggle – its reward is Easter Joy and His abundant Mercy, which prefigures our participation in the Paschal Feast of the Kingdom of God.