Approaching Lent this year seems a bit different. Maybe that’s true about each Lent, but this year even more because of our Province’s charge to “Get our House in Order” for the Order. Much of our focus has been on the way that we will “restructure”. And we need to.

When we look at our numbers, it becomes obvious that we cannot maintain all of the same ministries we have been doing in the same way. So, Provincial Council has prioritized in a general way how to do that. At our Regional Gatherings we’ll get your feedback and corrections. We are so aware that there are many things we cannot control. The unexpected death of our brother, David Moczulski, taught us this recently. Life and death happen without asking anyone’s permission. Still, we must ask the question about what is most important, at this time, to hold onto as a fraternity. And what must we be willing to relinquish?

Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM

Fr. Mark Soehner, OFM

And so, in my own life, I am asking the question, “What needs restructuring?” My additional weight would suggest that pulling away from the table earlier, not having the snacks around that I enjoy, could be part of that answer. I could even agree to feel the discomfort of being hungry to connect to the hunger that many people around the world feel regularly. It might move me to ask why, or consider a contribution to Bread for the World or other organizations that are working to address hunger. This small example is a way of personally “restructuring” that I’m attracted to this Lent because of the work that will be presented at our Regional Meetings.

But we are more importantly addressing the question of “Revitalizing” at these Spring Regional Meetings. There is a helpful tool developed by John Barker that involves a series of questions to help me think of ways to more closely follow our Rule and Constitutions. Certainly, I’m not looking to do that in some kind of legalistic way that I might have thought about in novitiate. No, with this tool, I’m encouraged to develop new goals that might lead me back to “My First Love”: this delightful and difficult relationship with God, who is asking me in love to surrender every detail of my life to Him. He is asking me to relinquish my worries, my addictive thinking, my inordinate feelings. I feel attracted to this dialogue during Lent.

Lent is meant to be a spiritual springtime, a renewal program of the Church for catechumens, and the whole Church, that develops a “holy envy” for what they go through. As we move closer to the revelry of “Fat Tuesday” (for Cincinnati friars, it could mean the delicious chili Gene Mayer makes), let’s also prepare some time to spend with the One Who Called each of us. Ask God how to spend this Lent together. It may lead to some personal restructuring and revitalizing.