Keep trying until you say "yes"
According to the Rule of St. Benedict, the first step in humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all. As we journey through the season of Lent with Christ, we are reminded that we share in His temptation from the devil and in His obedience to God.
In our daily lives, we may veer off track from doing the will of God. The season of Lent is a time to repent and to believe in the Gospel of our Lord; that is, His life, His death, and His resurrection. The Church gives us tools to practice this repentance or conversion during the season of Lent, as we prepare for Easter, the greatest holy day in the Church’s calendar.
Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the three traditional disciplines that we practice during the season of Lent. Growing up, many of us may have begun our Lenten practices with fasting — giving up sweets — or setting out to pray more, or even trying to give more of our time in service to others during the 40 days.
Christ expected His disciples to fast (“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites…”) Matthew 6:16-18. So, indeed, there is much more to these disciplines than to inconvenience us, particularly fasting. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “We fast for three purposes: to restrain the desires of the flesh; to raise the mind to contemplate sublime things; to make satisfaction for our sins…and so fasting is virtuous.”
But like many of you, I remember slipping up from time to time on these disciplines while growing up. I would feel defeated and would want to give in to the temptation and just give up. I would feel, “Well, so much for that.” But I was wrong in thinking that way. The Lenten disciplines are not only for the 40 days of Lent but are intended to help us practice our “yes” to God every day.
The Lenten disciplines are a valuable tool to help us practice conforming our way of life to God. Each time you practice one of these disciplines it is like a little “yes” to the Lord, helping you to stay focused and also drawing you closer to Him. Do not be disheartened when you stumble or fall. We are only human, but with time and discipline we will gain strength and we will stumble less. We will be more obedient to the Lord and saying “yes” to Him will become as natural as breathing.
As the rule of St. Benedict states, we must first humble ourselves to learn obedience. I believe this is the key to conforming our lives to Christ who was totally obedient to God. If we are too proud, we will never be able to see that everyone needs a bit of guidance every now and then. During this season of Lent, ask the Lord to help you and guide you so that you may grow in obedience in little matters and ultimately in obedience to God.