Joel 2:12–18; Psalm 51:3–4, 5–6, 12–13, 17; 2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2; Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18
In The Seven Storey Mountain, the Trappist monk and spiritual writer Thomas Merton explains how, when asked by his friend Robert Lax what he, Merton, wanted to be, he replied that he wanted to be a good Catholic. Lax, a poet and mystic, told him, “What you should say is that you want to be a saint.” Merton deferred, conscious of his own failings and inadequacies. But Lax persisted: “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one.” By desiring sainthood, Lax said, we consent to become what God has created us to be. God, in turn, will make us saints.
As we begin these lenten meditations with the saints, it may be helpful to remember that the foundation of Lent is our baptismal identity with Christ. This season prepares those who seek Christ for baptism; those already baptized use this time to renew that identity. In singling out exceptional followers of Christ, we don’t want to forget that all Christians should desire to live forever in the eternal life of God. Such a goal is the fulfillment of our Christian identity. That’s another way to describe sainthood. And it’s also a good goal for our lenten prayer and practice.
Who is your favorite saint? Read the life of that saint, whether online or in a book about saints, and choose some of the saint’s qualities that might influence your lenten observances.
God of our conversion, lead us to sainthood through our lenten journey.
May we embrace this time of penance in a spirit of prayer.
May we fast from all that distracts us from you.
May we come to the aid of those in need.
At journey’s end, may we find ourselves renewed as members of the body of Christ,
in whose name we pray. Amen.