As we enter into this season of Lent, let us reflect for a moment on what this season is all about. One way of looking at it is that it is a time of dying with Christ so that we might rise more fully with him this Easter.
First, what is it that needs to die so that we might rise? Our tendency towards sin. Humans come into the world naturally craving the good; however, we all too often choose the lesser goods of God’s creation over the greater goodness of God. Lent is a good time to curb our worldly desires so that we might more fully live the life he wants us to live.
In addition, God created humanity to be in relationship with himself. Most of us have a tendency to march to the beat of a different drummer. We want to make our own decisions. We want to do things that make us feel good or increase our prestige in the eyes of the world. So often, these and similar desires lead us away from this deeper union with God.
By finding ways to die to self we open ourselves to the greater good, which is God, who is love. We make room for him to live and breath within us. We clear out the voices in our head that cry out for the goods of the world, and this allows us to hear Him more clearly.
The problem is, we are weak, and any solo effort to die to self is destined to fail, at least in part. There is a reason that God, through the prophet Ezekiel, told us that he wanted to replace our stoney hearts with hearts of flesh; that he wanted to place his Spirit within us in order to move us towards compliance with his decrees. Ez 36:26-27. There is a reason that Jesus had to ascend so that the Advocate could come and guide us in all truth. Jn 16:13. We were never intended to take on the role of dying to selves by ourselves. If we have been baptized, we have the source of all goodness residing within us. We have within us the one who will be our strength in weakness (2 Cor 12:10). All we need to do is learn to hear him; learn to follow his lead towards holiness.
This Lent, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer with the Holy Spirit seeking his insights on how you can take steps towards dying to self so that you might live life to the fullest (Jn 10:10). By this I mean so that you might live life in union with the Triune God who dwells within you. Spend this Lent working with the Holy Spirit to curb your earthly desires, and learning how to follow his lead more readily. Spend time praying that he help you be open to his grace so that you might be moved away from sin and moved towards the Father who loves you.