One great thing for us to keep in mind: Lent contains graces, in and of itself, simply by virtue of what it is. Lent can mean many different things for many different people. But the one thing which Lent is, in and of itself: Our share in the graces won by Christ’s forty-day fast in the desert.
This consoles me, anyway. Since I have never been particularly “good at” Lent.
You might say, ‘No surprise there, Father! You’re not particularly good at anything.”
But that’s the beauty of the absolute fact of the grace of the forty days. We receive special divine help during the forty days of Lent, whether we have any “Lent skills” or not.
My biggest problem is: I am prepared to fast from food, sleep, talking, even e-mail. But don’t ask me to fast from Big-East basketball during Lent. Because I can’t do it.
Seriously, though: The Lord Jesus Himself consecrated these forty days for us by His fast. He won us Lenten graces by which we can overcome bad habits. He won us Lenten graces by which we can pray more, meditate more, intercede more for people who need our prayers.
Most important of all: By His fast—which He undertook for one reason, namely because He loved the Father—by His fast, kept out of love, Jesus won Lenten graces for us, by which, between now and Easter, we can learn to love better. We can love God better and love our neighbor better.
And we don’t even have to be “good at” Lent. He gives us these graces whether we are good at Lent or not.