Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (Psalm 51.10)
“What are you giving up for Lent?” Long ago on the playground of my Catholic elementary school, that was an eager topic of conversation as Ash Wednesday approached. Nowadays, I like to think that my Lenten practices are a little more sophisticated, or at least more positive. I may choose to address a certain attitude, to be kinder, more generous with my time and recourses, more prayerful – all I hope, sincere and well-intentioned efforts.
However, it is easy to fall into the trap of treating Lent as a sort of self-improvement program. The truth is that it is impossible, solely by our own efforts, to make ourselves better or holier. Only God can effect change in us.
Perhaps what we need to “give up” this Lent is any false sense of self-reliance, as we humbly turn to the God who prays and works within and through us.
Loving God, may I begin this Lenten journey by acknowledging my utter dependence on you, who alone can purify my heart and transform my spirit.