Self-Searching in God’s Presence
In imitation of Jesus’ forty days in the desert, where he prayed, fasted, and was tested, we embarked on forty days of Lent on Ash Wednesday. In the days of lent, we are summoned to enter the desert to confront ourselves in the presence of God. I took a couple of days off last week to go into the desert. When I told a friend of mine that I am going into the desert to rest and pray, she responded: “In the desert? Are you in Las Vegas?” I chuckled at that. On a lighter note, Las Vegas would not be a bad place to go for some days, but I wonder if I can accomplish the task of leaving for the desert in Las Vegas, which is to confront myself in God’s presence. A desert is a sandy place which means it is bare, with no distractions of modern living like phones, TV, and the likes. It is symbolic of simplicity and detachment, of silence and reflection.
The days of Lent is a period of detachment from worldly allurements in order to find attachment to spiritual pleasure. Through the discipline of lent- prayers, fasting, and giving, we practice self-restraint that opens us up to self-knowledge and discernment. In the silence of the desert, we interrogate ourselves: why am I in this world? What is my purpose in life? How am I called to serve God better? In doing this we discover our true self. We discover the meaning of our baptismal vows and how we are called to a closer relationship with God and the love of our neighbors. We contemplate what it means to repent and believe the gospel. "Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:15), Jesus says to us.
To repent, to turn around, to make a U-turn, is a fruit of sincere self-searching and disclosure. We pray and meditate on the scriptures and through the help of the Holy Spirit we come to self-awareness of our sins and pray to God for forgiveness. We also pray for the grace to endure the trials of life, the temptations we face daily, we pray to love God above all demands of self-satisfaction contrary to the will of God, to the life of charity.
During this period of repentance and prayer, of self-discovery and prayers, of random acts of charity, let us emerge from it a better version of ourselves. We discover our true self in God’s presence- find time daily to stay still and silent in His presence. May we experience and encounter the real Jesus during this lent.
Yours in the search for self,
Fr, Bernard, OP