"Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God." (Joel 2:12-13)
In this season of fasting and penance, I am challenging myself to look beyond the external penance that I usually take on. Sure, I’ll take on the usual material penance, but that penance is a reminder for myself. What God really asks me to do is to rend my heart. He wants me to lean into the fissures deep within myself and to let Him into those most secret places. As I remember Jesus’ wounds throughout this season, I'm offered the gift to share my wounds back as well.
Our penance this season should help us move outside ourselves, to identify with others and with Christ in new ways, rather than creating new stress and pressure to run some kind of Lenten marathon with a winner at the end. No, Lent is a season that allows us to recognize our brokenness and be healed, fully and completely by our loving Savior.
God is asking for us to return to Him this Lent. Our best offerings are the very hearts He Himself set within us. He wants those hearts back. He will heal us. He wants us back. He doesn’t want my chocolate or your Dr. Pepper. Those are our reminders. He wants us to return to Him, hearts in our hands, sharing our joy, our love, our sorrow, our brokenness. Everything that we are pondering, holding within, regardless of its beauty or ugliness. He wants it all.
Ready to give that whole heart back? Make a good confession, get to Mass, and face this Lent with your heart in hands, ready to give it over to Him who wants you most deeply.
Brigid Hogan is a high school English and ESL teacher who lives in northeast DC. She is passionate about Catholic social teaching and tries to live it out daily in her relationships and community. Most of her pleasures are guilty ones like television, burritos, and Twitter. Find out more about her here.