Today marks the beginning of my favorite season of our church year, Lent. I love the extended period of reflection, self-evaluation, service, sacrifice and almsgiving that leads us closer to God, culminating in the Easter Miracle. I think I am so fond of this liturgical season because it reminds me so much of our recovery program in Alcoholics Anonymous. As Catholics we spend the next 40 days focusing on repentence and conversion to the Good News at Easter. Today, we receive ashes (marked on our foreheads in the sign of the Cross) and hear the words "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" or "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return".
To be marked with the ashes from the burning of last years palms given at Palm Sunday is an outward sign of our commitment to repentance and the conversion of our hearts to follow God more closely. My faith is a choice, and this time of year affords me the opportunity to renew my faith, renew myself and "re-make" my choice to "take up my cross and follow Christ." Lent is a wondrful season but just like recovery, it only "works if you work it." So my plan is to increase time spent in prayer at home and at church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. My plan is to continue to be of service to others at meetings and through my various volunteer and service efforts. I will also practice self-denial by practicing fasting and not allowing myself particular indulgences in an effort to improve my focus on my relationship with God and further reduce my self-centeredness. I must repent: turn away from sin (separation from my HP), and turn directly to HP to better live His will. I am using the 12 Steps as my guide to a renewing, spiritual Lent this year.
In terms of AA and recovery from alcoholism, Lent is a lot like a trip through the Steps. In prayer, we practice Steps 1-3. In repentance and self-evaluation we are living Steps 4-9, and in renewal, conversion and service we're living Steps 10-12, and as a result we're reborn in a sober, recovered stae. The idea would be then for us to go through this process each year, in an effort to continue growing "more well" and closer to our HP. And during the rest of they year, while not in this intense process of discovery, purge and renewal, we fin ourselves focused more on the daily practice of Steps 1-3 and 10-12.
I do not share all of this to be boastful, but to commit a plan to writing and to hopefully inspire others to a more meaningful Lenten/recovery season.