Similar to New Year's resolutions, Lenten resolutions have a tendency to be set intentionally and then lack the purposeful follow through needed to actually keep them. We have great aspirations for ourselves after deep thought that often lack follow through. With that in mind, I want to share one my Lenten additions with you to help you check in with how you are doing thus far!
Ignatian spirituality includes a daily examen that reflects on the past day (or in this case past few weeks) with great intention and the help of the Holy Spirit. Something I really love about the examen is that it does not just focus on the negative of our day, but also encourages us to reflect on and relish the good in each day. Just follow these 5 R's:
Don't give into the temptation to just give up because Lent hasn't gone the way you intended so far. Make a prayer of contrition and penance and then firmly resolve to do better each and every day.
You got this friend, wherever you are in your journey.
If you didn't know, this past week was my first full week of teaching; Monday through Friday spent with the funniest, most inquisitive group of sixth through 8th graders you've ever met. They are going to be a joy to educate and learn from this year! (You can read my first week reflection here.)
One student asked me this thought provoking question, after sitting and thinking for moment:
"We're Christians, right? And because we're Christians we're not supposed to call people bad names, right? So... is it okay if we call the Devil bad names?"
What a question...
I would like to preface my answer by saying that in retrospect, this would have been a good question to send the student home with. Our school is Catholic but not all of our students are (including my questioner). But I cannot resist a good question, so after a little thought, this is what I told the student...
"The Devil is corporal, real being, just like God. But the Devil's goal is to interfere with our life and relationship with God as much as possible. All Satan wants is to be invited in to get in between us and our God. So, I don't think it's a good idea to tempt the Devil. It's probably best to not address him at all."
The Evil One is crafty. Just look at Genesis, where he prays on Adam and Eve's pride and love for one another. He takes our best pieces and uses them against, slowly and surely. He took a good piece of my student, someone who wants to condemn Satan and all his evil promises, and use it as a way into his little life.
But we don't have to call the Devil names to address him. We invite him into our lives when we willfully choose to do anything counter to the life Christ has called us to leave. Trashy TV, crude music, gossip with coworkers... those small sins build up making it easier and easier the Evil One to interfere. One more drink, snoozing for an extra hour on Sunday. It's the little things that create space for temptation and failure to resist.
Sometimes we forget that the Devil isn't just another boogieman. The Devil is a real, corporal being who wants to tempt us away from our loving God each and every day. Which is why we shouldn't call him names. He wrecks enough havoc on our lives without our taunting. The only thing we need to be saying to him is "not today."
Not today Satan. Not today.