The retirement of Pope Benedict to a life of prayer within a monastery, coinciding with Lent, has shaken my complacency about finding time for prayer.
It’s true that God is always there, and will wait patiently for stragglers like me to turn to him again in prayer, but the Holy Spirit prompts us at times to enter into more intense periods of personal and communal prayer.
This Lent, more so than any other in living memory, is clearly one of those times for Catholics.
We can’t know God’s reasons for wanting a new, physically stronger pope as well as a Pope Emeritus devoted solely to prayer, although we can look around at the world we live in and make some educated guesses.
Our world desperately needs our prayers and sacrifices, our work, our zeal, everything! Our own bishops are calling us to make this Lent more intensely a time of prayer and reparation for the worst sins of members of the Church, in particular.
Last year I didn’t do too well in keeping up my Lenten observances. I tried giving up chocolate and lollies in solidarity with Naomi.
Naomi’s attempt was an heroic one.
Mine was pretty pathetic – unless you count eating Naomi’s chocolate so that she wouldn’t be tempted by it a sacrificial act.
One day it dawned on Naomi why she had been saving up the Easter gifts from her schoolmates for a couple of weeks, but there weren’t too many of them in the fridge.
“Hey, you’ve been eating my chocolates!”
I felt so bad! I promised her and Hannah that I would give up chocolate, lollies and (gasp!) coffee next time. And they’ve held me to it.
I’ve never dared to give up coffee for Lent before.
It hasn’t been too bad.
I’ve found it much easier actually because of what I see our pope doing.
Surely if he can stand up and humbly resign, knowing all the gossip, condemnation, and goodness-knows-what-else would be coming his way this Lent, then I can temporarily forgo my precious morning shot of caffeine in a spirit of humility and contrition.
It’s the least I can do for love of Jesus.