By Kara Johnson
Yet even now,” says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart ~ Joel 2:12
I clearly remember feeling a strange disconnect as a Protestant during Lent and Easter. I knew the salvation story and understood it as the most pivotal and unmatchable event in history, yet I struggled to connect with it.
I read and reread Joel 2:12 and Psalm 51:10-12, begging God to restore my joy and renew my heart. I recognized the promises and desperately wanted more. That’s when God brought me to a place I never thought I’d go—the Catholic Church!
Initially, I fought my conversion because I only saw endless regulations and rote routines. But as my heart began to open, I realized that what I thought were unyielding obligations were actually a priceless pathway to unmatchable opportunities for growth and connection.
Through the blessed sacraments and the rhythm of our liturgical seasons come beautiful checkpoints which both gently and firmly—pull us back, adjust our course, and wipe away debris from daily life. The Catholic faith gives us visceral experiences and vibrant invitations to step away from the ordinary.
Lent opens the door and awakens us by asking that we put down distractions and anything unsatisfying so we can be realigned and restored. Culture offers so much of the quick, easy, and superficial that it’s easy to become enthralled with the puddle and miss the ocean of profound, satisfying, divine experiences God offers.
Ash Wednesday puts a stop to these dizzying distractions by offering an often harsh jolt of realization so we can spend the next 40 days healing and being restored to our awareness of the eternal. It’s more than abstaining, more than removing or sacrificing something. Lent makes room for Christ and all the blessings and graces He has to offer us. As we pray, sacrifice, and give, we can experience a renewed taste for the sacred and a returned sense of awe.
Lord God, thank you for your continual care for us. Thank you for what you have done on the cross, and thank you for allowing us to connect with you in such a personal way. Take this season of Lent and truly renew my spirit. Remind me who I am so I can be all the more reminded of who you are. Cleanse, restore, and mold me into a more holy version of myself and a more accurate representative of you.
Call to Action
Today, as we enter into the Lenten season, let us ponder. What thoughts, patterns, and practices can we leave behind to have our hearts cleansed, joy renewed, and spirits restored?
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