Lent begins this Wednesday. There are so many different things about which to think and reflect. Sacrifice is an essential part of the Lenten journey but so is cultivating better habits.
I suggest one good Lenten practice for us this year is cultivating deeper friendships, especially cultivating a deeper friendship with Jesus. When our relationship with Jesus deepens and grows, it is easier for us to reflect on building other strong relationships and friendships in our lives.
Sooner or later, we discover over time that the most important aspect of any valuable friendship is simply spending time together. As a relationship matures and deepens, what we actually do with someone can often take a back seat to simply being with them. At the same time, we grow more comfortable with the other person, we become more ourselves and worry less about revealing our faults and weaknesses in their presence-because we know we are loved by them even with our imperfections.
This is exactly the kind of relationship that Jesus wants to have with us. He desires for us to come and spend time with Him, to simply be in His presence. This is the foundation of any good relationship! Jesus invites us to get to know Him in a very personal way. He makes Himself present in the Blessed Sacrament so that we can easily approach Him. He invites us-actually, we could say that He begs us-to come and spend time with Him, so that we may come to know His love for us.
The best part about his invitation is that He already knows us even better than we know ourselves. One great spiritual author describes being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in this way:
“My sins, my defects, my quirks, are all known to Him. There is no secret, nothing to be embarrassed about, no place to hide. I believe that He does in fact love me. With all my failings I have never been afraid to come to Him. In fact, I have run to Him and He has been there for me. Before our Lord, I feel more at home than any other place.”
Jesus already knows us so completely we can’t help but feel at home in his presence. Jesus takes us as we are. We do not need to worry about fancy prayers or elaborate practices. Just being with Jesus is enough for Him to speak to our hearts.
We are blessed in this Diocese with many opportunities to spend time with Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Some of our parishes, for instance Holy Apostles, even offer perpetual adoration. This Lent, we pray that by spending more time with our Lord, who already knows us so well and desires our friendship, we will come to know Him more deeply.