Dr. Regis Martin of Franciscan University of Steubenville is tired of Lent. Watch what he has to say here:
I have a confession to make: I agree with him. Here we are at day 17 of the Lenten season and I am tired of Lent. I am worn out by the struggle of giving up my favorite beverage. Like Dr. Martin, I am embarrassed by undertaking such a pathetic fast to begin with, when others around me seem so much more ambitious in their disciplines. I am disappointed that all my Examinations of Conscience seem to be yielding little change in my day to day behaviors. I am frustrated that my prayer time seems dry and quite honestly, a bit of a struggle. Each morning I find myself asking: "How many days are left?"
Lent isn't easy. Jesus' 40 days in the desert were no picnic and not without temptation. Our Lord's journey on the way to the cross was one filled with mental, physical, spiritual and emotional pain. We can expect to struggle in our attempts to overcome our vices and tame our flesh. Lent isn't easy - no one ever suggested it was.
So are we just to endure 40 days of misery each Lent? Since the church calls Lent a "season of joy", my guess is that running a mental countdown clock to Easter is not the right approach to the struggles of the season. My suspicion is that my Lenten efforts have been unsuccessful because they have been precisely that - my efforts. I have been attempting to muddle my way through Lent on my own steam.
The three synoptic Gospels all relate to us that Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit prior spending 40 days in the desert. Matthew's gospel tells us: "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." (Mt 4:1) In Mark's gospel, the wording is even stronger: "At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert" (Mk 1: 12). Finally, in Luke's Gospel we read: "Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil." (Lk 4:1) Here on day 17 of Lent I find myself asking the question: If Jesus needed the power of the Holy Spirit to endure 40 days in the desert, why do I think that I don't?
Our God is a God of new beginnings and fresh starts; of mercies which are "renewed each morning." (Lam 3:22-23) Today, I begin Lent again - this time asking the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit and then lead me into the desert of his choice. I pray that the Holy Spirit will empower me to withstand the temptations that come my way and I freely submit myself to the purifications that he desires that I experience. Then I will be able to sing the song of hope that Dr. Martin describes - a song which cries: "Come Lord Jesus, come again."