During the coming week I intend, God willing, to write a series of short posts about preparing for Lent. Lent is itself a time of preparation for Easter, so you may ask why we need to prepare specifically for Lent. The best answer I can give is to point you towards the ancient tradition of the Church. Comparatively few now remember Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays as they were celebrated before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, but those who do, and those who study liturgical history, know that this period was a time of preparation for Lent, one might almost say an anticipation of Lent, with violet vestments for the Mass and ‘alleluia’ dropped from the antiphons of the Divine Office.
To make the most of Lent we need to think and pray about it beforehand. Not every idea for ‘making a good Lent’ necessarily comes from the Holy One! Today, however, there is just one suggestion I think we would do well to consider. In the gospel (Mark 1. 29-39) we read of Jesus going apart to a lonely place to pray. There should be in the heart of each of us a lonely place where Christ prays unceasingly to the Father. Most of us are too busy and too noisy most of the time even to notice that such a place exists. If our Lent is to be fruitful, we need to try to find that ‘lonely place’, cultivate it and allow it to flourish. The best way of beginning to do that is, paradoxically, through not doing. Today, try, if you can, to find a few moments when you can be quiet before the Lord and allow him to take charge. You will not regret it.