This post is part of the Lenten series “From Ashes to Glory.”The Ignatian Examen begins with thanks to God for all that we have and are. We might begin with the greater things like faith in Christ and life itself and then thank God for the concrete graces of the day. We can live “always and everywhere giving thanks to God” (Ephesians 5:20).
Look carefully at all we need to thank God for. Some of his gifts are given to all of us: We live in plenty. Most of us pray and worship in peace. Some of God’s gifts are deeply personal—good parents, a good marriage, faithful friends. These are all gifts from God that we may appreciate too little.
Some of our gifts are so much a part of everyday life that we do not think of them as gifts. Who thanks God for everyday things like drinkable water in every faucet? For trustworthy supermarkets? For a web of highways? We can thank God for these things too.
And then there are the greatest gifts: our “firm hope” of living with Christ forever in our own flesh. Our confidence that God cares for me, personally. Our amazing gift of the Eucharist.
We are grateful to a loving God. Grateful that our loving God remains present in the gifts he gives. Grateful that God is always acting to care and provide for us. Grateful that God the Son, Jesus Christ, came to us and remains with us, God-with-us.
As we grow in gratitude, we grow more willing to let go of our attachments to things that hold us back. This Lent is good time to reflect on these attachments and ask our Lord Jesus to free us from them.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the subtle life of the world–the worldly life. Everything militates against mindfulness and prayer. As lent begins this work by Brueghel shows that there is within us the desire for what is holy, but it’s often overpowered by the desire to ‘belong,’ to ‘fit the norm’, to ‘be normal.’ Who decides what’s normal, anyway? How does one reconcile the decision to be worldly with the deepest desire of our souls: to know ourselves that we may know God? Yet, ours is a patient God who waits for us to see the light. May this season’s conflict between carnival and lent end in victory for each one of us. The victory is Love.