Recently I was conversing with a young woman across a table in a small room. At 21 years of age, she has creative talents and was looking forward to getting a good job. She said she is Catholic but does not believe in organized religion. She didn’t make the sign of the cross when I began a short prayer. It seems that Faith is no longer part of her life, as it does not give her any tangible benefits. Jesus, for her, is a character in a book.
Some of us may share some of her sentiment. We believe that we are spiritual persons, but we would rather dispense with spiritual disciplines of going to church, praying regularly, giving up bad habits, and doing good deeds for others. We may have lost how to savor being with Jesus, and for that we need interior change.
May I suggest the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary as the framework for interior change during Lent? Many of us pray the Rosary, but do you focus on the fruits of each Joyful Mystery? The fruit of the First Joyful Mystery is humility—humbly acknowledging our littleness, yet saying ‘Yes’ to God’s request for us to be available for Him. The fruit of the Second Joyful Mystery is love of neighbor—that our humble
‘Yes’ means bringing joy to others by serving them. The fruit of the Third Joyful Mystery is poverty—for we lost the sense of joy and freedom from being detached from multitude of desires to possess something. The fruit of the Fourth Joyful Mystery is obedience—for without obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we might make decisions that are selfish and not our Heavenly Father’s will for us. Finally, the fruit of the Fifth Joyful Mystery is joy in finding Jesus. Lent is not about external giving up of things, but the change of our hearts to grow deeper in our love for Jesus.
The 21-year old woman whom I mentioned at the beginning of the homily is in jail. I told her that Jesus personally sent me to tell her that He knows she is unhappy without Jesus in her life, and that He wants her heart changed during this Lent. Jesus personally invites each of
us, during this Lent, to do the same. As you are marked with your ashes, listen to the words that are recited, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel” and let this be the beginning of our season of change.