Lent 2022: Following Jesus into the desert


“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert for 40 days.” Mt 4:1

The Desert of Temptation in the Holy Land

Lent 2022 is here and I needed to look at it from a completely different perspective this year. In the past, I would “give up” some food that I really liked and take the money I saved from not buying that food and donate the money to charity. Well, this year, being at the novitiate, I don’t buy nor do I pay for the food I eat, so I needed to find a new way to “give up” something this Lent. Also, in the past, I would give away 40 things I owned, one each day of Lent. These could be clothes, books, house wears, gift cards, shoes, toiletries, etc. But, this August when I came to the novitiate, I only brought with me the bare minimum that I would need for the 10 months I would be in Chicago. So here’s another Lenten practice I needed to change or reimagine.   

For this Lent I realized that I need to do some real “heart work” and hard work to go deeper into my novitiate journey and for my future vocation in religious life.  For me, especially during this Lent, Jesus is saying to me, “Look Cathy, you don’t know everything and you’ve got a lot of interior spiritual work to do!” Only by looking deeply into my heart can I gain insights about this new way of life I am embracing. These insights are really insights into the workings of God in my discernment. This is the heart work that Jesus is calling me to do this Lent.

Timothy Radcliff’s quote from his book “Sing a New Song: The Christian Vocation” really spoke to me about exactly where I am at, in this time of my formation. He says that “Initial formation will entail moments of pain, disorientation, discouragement and a loss of meaning”. He also says that, “If these moments do not happen, then my formation would not be touching me deeply.” I am challenged to look at these hard moments of disorientation and pain as opportunities to grow and change. But that can only happen if I can stop being blind to the changes I might need to make. I need to look for the opportunities to be a better learner and discerner of Jesus’ call in my life. I need to take a hard look for the areas in my life that I need to work on. 

So where do I look to make these needed changes? Possibly by answering the question, how is Jesus calling me into the desert this Lent to work on looking deeply into the areas of my life that I am blind to? Lent 2022 is the time to do my heart work and my hard work. This is where I ask the hard questions and listen for the difficult answers that maybe I don’t want to hear. Jesus is asking me to enter the desert with him this Lent and make the time for us to do this hard work and heart work together. How about you, where is Jesus calling you to go with him this Lent?

Blessings on your Lenten journey!