Change Our Hearts

Change Our Hearts

Written by Sister Therese Ann Rich in 2017                    

My favorite and most challenging Lenten hymn, Change Our Hearts,sets the tone each year as I enter into the Season of Lent:  “Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be. Change our minds this time, your life could make us free. We are the people your call sets apart. Lord, this time change our hearts.” [Rory Cooney]

How do you prepare for Lent? How have you prepared in the past? What are your ideas about what should happen during Lent?

We have the traditional Catholic practices of praying, fasting and almsgiving. So, we pray more than usual, or we pray with different emphases. We eat smaller or fewer meals or give up a favorite food or drink group. We give more of our resources or give them specifically to special works of mercy during Lent.

Prayer, fasting, and charitable giving continue to be quite good practices during Lent or at any time.

However, this year I am asking: How do I want to be during Lent this year? More quiet and thoughtful? More open to God’s desires? Better able to sit with people who need me? More attentive to sacred readings? Do I need to be more compassionate toward my own fears and failings? Do I need to become more courageous about using the gifts God has given me?
Will my heart be changed this time?

This Lent I invite you to join me in these three short and simple prayer starters:

Ask God, every day, “What does my soul need?” Just ask, and wait quietly. Because we’re very good at fooling ourselves about how we’re doing, it might take several days of praying this question before we’re truly open and humble enough to know the answer.

Ask God, every day, “What about my life makes you happy?” Yes, when God looks at our lives, some parts of it — perhaps many aspects of it — bring joy to God’s heart. I invite you to think of how your children or grandchildren or other people close to you make you happy. God is in relationship with you, which means that your sins grieve God’s heart, but also that your growth and love and freedom and kindness bring joy to the God of the universe. Again, you and I will probably need to pray this a few times before we are willing to consider that we give God pleasure, that we make God happy in any way. Stick with this little prayer and keep listening.

Tell God, and yourself, every day, “I want to be open to the graces of this Lenten season.” Maybe you and I are not open right now, or you and I are not as open and willing as we’d like to be or think we ought to be. What else is new? We can always open our lives a bit more, let go of more stuff, listen better, and do more quickly and passionately what we know helps nurture God’s kingdom on earth.

This is a beginning: three short and simple prayer starters as we enter into this holy season.