Yesterday I read through one or two suggestions for Lent that left me reeling. I really don’t think Lent is about giving up or taking on more, as such; rather, it’s about seeking God with more intensity of focus than we manage at other times. To do that we need simplicity— and we have become such complicated creatures that simplicity is more and more alien to us. That is why our lives need to take on a plainness they often lack. Our food is simpler and less copious; our prayer is simpler, too, reverting to more ancient forms, especially as we enter Holy Week. Our compassion — almsgiving — has, or should have, a wider spread; and all because we seek the Lord. Love is our motive, and Love himself our reward.
When Jesus went out into the desert it wasn’t to do anything complicated or self-serving. He went into the desert to simplify his life and commune with his Father. I don’t suppose he wasted time wondering whether he had fasted enough, or prayed enough, (and I’m pretty sure he didn’t read any books about either!). The one thing we know about his desert experience is that his love of his Father grew and enabled him to reject the temptations of Satan. More than that, when he came out of the desert he plunged immediately into that life of loving service of others which led him ultimately to the Cross. Our Lent will lead us along the same path. All we have to do is follow it . . . with great simplicity.