Be awake and be attentive.
Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith, realizing that the brotherhood of believers is undergoing the same sufferings throughout the world. (1 Peter 5: 8-9)
Being awake and attentive is crucial to the spiritual life of every Christian and it is harder than it looks. Being sober and alert, as St. Peter puts it in his letter, requires real work on our part. Here are a few ways one might choose to work on this maxim during the Lenten season and beyond.
Daily prayer. Being awake means to know oneself. Spending time with God is the surest way to really know who it is we are called to be. Prayer is essential not so much because God needs our prayers, but that we need to spend time with him in order to know our true selves. Some simple ways to pray each day include making a morning offering to God and asking him to guide you throughout the day, participation in daily mass if it is available, praying the rosary and meditating upon each of the mysteries, reading the Bible, and making an examination of conscience at the end of each day.
Confession. Another way of discovering the person God has called each of us to be is the sacrament of reconciliation. As Matthew Kelly likes to say, this sacrament places before us two realities: the person we are currently and the person God has called us to be. The contrast is presented to us not as a condemnation, but rather to inspire us to continue running the race until we reach the finish line.
Paying attention to the needs of those around us. Each day God has some work that he has chosen specifically for you. It might be that he needs you to pray for someone in your family, your neighborhood or place of work. It might be that he makes sure someone crosses your path that needs someone to listen to them and give them encouragement. It could be that you have been given the financial blessings that allow you to provide food or other physical needs for the poor. One thing is certain. God calls each of us on a daily basis to provide for the needs of others. The question is whether or not we will recognize those needs and take action.
Resisting temptation through prayer and the support of others. Temptation is a constant battle. If you are serious about living a Christian life you can expect to be tempted to your last breath. The good news is that we are not alone in our temptation. In fact, we are told in the Scriptures that we have a savior who was tempted in every way possible. We must rely on the strength of Christ when facing temptations as well as the prayers of our fellow Christians.
Choosing to be in the company of those who share our Christian values. Peer pressure is not just for high school and it isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve noticed in my life that when I want to accomplish something good, it is helpful to be in the company of those who share that same desire. It is much harder for me to turn away from doing good when I know there are others who are relying on me to follow through. When I am part of a group that is seeking holiness, I am much more likely to succeed and so are they since we are stronger together than any one of us is individually.
During this season of Lent, let us remember that whenever we set out to do the work of the Lord, the devil is certain to work against our efforts and attempt to destroy us. Rather than succumbing to despair, let us face him, sober and alert, calling upon the Lord and our fellow Christians for help.