How is Lent going? Are you “succeeding” in areas from which you are fasting? How about your almsgiving? How is your prayer life during this liturgical season?
As I was thinking of a piece to create to do a “midway through Lent check-in,” the topic that kept coming to my mind, and heart, was conversion. I’m not talking about conversion of a faith denomination.
Instead, I mean a conversion of hearts.
We are called, as Christians, to pray for the conversion of hearts of others. The Holy Father has asked us specifically as Catholic Christians to pray for the conversion of hearts for those that accept evil into their hearts, and conduct evil in the world.
The largest, most forefront example I can think of what is being asked of us, is to pray for those who are persecuting others for their faith. The instant thought is the murdering of the Coptic Christians in Libya, and for the Christians who have been abducted in Syria. We are called to pray for a conversion of the hearts of those who are abducting, persecuting, and making martyrs of Christians in the world.
But, that is an obvious example of praying for the conversion of hearts. How often do we pray for the events making the news? Hopefully pretty often.
How often do we pray for others that we may encounter in our daily lives, who may be rude, dismissive, or angry toward us? We probably could all work on adding a little more prayer for them.
Most importantly, how often do we pray for a conversion of our own hearts?
You see, when I think of a “conversion of hearts,” I think of bringing someone closer to God – that people will become open to the power of the Holy Spirit, and allow the Holy Spirit to really move and guide the actions of their personal methods of conduct and their belief and value systems.
To me, one of the most beautiful devotions in our faith, as Catholic Christians is the devotion of the Stations of the Cross. Typically, Catholic churches will hold some sort of public recitation of the Stations of the Cross during Lent, followed by a meatless potluck. It is a time to truly reflect on the entirety of the Passion of Our Lord. It allows us to really stop, ponder, and pray upon each station, and depending on the script used, and the thought one puts into the Stations, the emotions that can be evoked can be powerful.
The same emotion can be evoked as one recites the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary – no matter which time of year, but especially during the forty days of Lent. Focusing on the stages that Jesus went through, accepting His mission, as it were, and following through to completion.
Many people hate the phrase, “God only gives you what you can handle.” To me, that phrase brings up thoughts of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew what had to come; Mary knew what had to come for her Son. These were non-negotiable acts that had to occur for God’s will to be fulfilled – for Him to give us His only Son, for our sins, and ultimately for our salvation.
As we reflect on our own lives, our own sorrows, our own pains, have we taken a moment to stop and remember Our Lord? As we feel compelled to grumble about giving up our chocolate, or our Facebook usage, or our caffeine, have we stopped to think of the life that Jesus gave up for our sins?
Yes, Jesus rose from the dead! And, for that we should rejoice!
However, just like the season of Advent, Lent is a time of preparation. We are called to prepare our hearts each Lent for the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus.
Part of that preparation should be acknowledging and remembering Jesus suffered. He suffered immensely for us and for our sins.
He also continues to suffer each time our hearts are not turned toward He and His Father.
If you have slipped from your Lenten fasting journey, I call upon you to pick it back up – take it day by day. Had Jesus’ fast in the desert been easy, Satan wouldn’t have had any impetus with which to test Jesus. Jesus’ fast, and the temptation he faced in the desert, was not easy for Jesus, just as our Lenten fasts are not easy for us.
As we take a moment to ponder how we are doing this Lent, to reflect on our tasks and sacrifices, I challenge each of us to also take a moment to consider what Our Lord did for us – not as a means to depress us, but instead to find comfort.
Whatever discomfort we are feeling in this world, Jesus felt, and still feels, both magnified and amplified. He walks with, and many times carries, us during our struggles. He knows, and feels, all that we are going through in our lives.
As we complete this Lent of 2015, I urge us all to consider adding an element of our prayer life that is devoted to praying for the conversion of hearts – for others we don’t know, for those we do know, and for each of us individually and personally.
Praying for the conversion of hearts, and being open to the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives may not solve the ills of this entire world, but it will help carve out a little piece of this world that may, however slightly, ease some of the pain of Jesus as we remember His Passion, and work toward this upcoming Easter Triduum.
“Conversion of Hearts” contributed by Anni Harry.