Lent may be a good time for a 'faith lift' Print
Cutting Edge
Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

I always love to read the signs outside of churches. Once I saw a clever one that asked, "Do you need a faith lift?" It was a good question that made me stop and think about my own faith life and where I need some spiritual Botox.

Guest Column

Now that we are in the dark dreary time of the year when life is cold and monotonous, at least in the Midwest, and we probably have broken many of our new year's resolutions, it is a good time to reflect on how we need our spiritual life lifted. Lent is a perfect season for renewal.

What in our faith needs to be renewed? How do we need to deepen or recharge our relationship with Jesus and the Church?

Relationship with God

Faith like all relationships is never stagnant. It either grows or regresses. We might ask ourselves what would help me to strengthen my relationship with Jesus and help me grow in my faith?

One biggie for some might be simply to spend more time with the Lord in prayer. For others it might be to say fewer "ready-made" prayers and give Jesus a chance to speak to us in the quiet of our hearts. Sometimes we can be so busy rattling off the same litany of prayers each day that God can't get a word in edgewise.

Maybe we need to start praying. It is difficult for our faith to deepen and grow without it. It is like not making time for a good friend. He or she probably wouldn't be a close friend for very long! (Thank goodness God never abandons us even when we slack up on our side of the relationship!)

Another way to deepen our spirituality is to be faithful to weekly Mass attendance. Do we share the Eucharist with Jesus regularly? It would be awful to have a friend that rarely accepts our invitations to share a meal with us. Eucharist is the center of our Catholic faith. Our faith would be pretty lame without it. Lent is a good time to attempt to attend Mass more than once a week.

Relationships with others

And what about our relationships with others? How seriously do we practice the teachings of Jesus regarding forgiveness? Are there people in our lives we need to forgive or from whom we need forgiveness? Who do we avoid at school or work because we need reconciliation? Where won't we go if we know so and so will be there? It is a good time to start the process of making up.

Does our faith life end at the church doors or do we take seriously what is said at the end of Mass when the priest commissions us to "go and serve the Lord and one another"? Do we try to live out what we claim to profess? Do we strive to reach out in love to others regularly or only when there is something in it for us? It might be the time to work on the "love your neighbor" part of the great commandment.

There are other things we can also do to give our faith a shot in the arm such as participating in a good retreat, a Lenten program, a Scripture or theology course, or get involved in a parish or campus ministry program. This could be just what we need to boost our faith. Faith does not grow automatically. It takes cooperation with God's grace.

Lent is an opportune time to do a self-assessment and determine what area of our spiritual life we would like to change or grow in during this season of renewal. Don't try for a complete makeover. Remember the old saying that Rome wasn't built in a day! It takes a lifetime to develop a deep relationship with God.

Sr. Margie Lavonis, a freelance writer, is a Sister of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Ind.