I am writing this on Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday, so my mind is on Lent, our forty days of spiritual preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
Yet, I must also confess that my mind is also on something much more earthly: spring training begins! The Yankees and the Mets are getting ready for the opening pitch!
Hear me out, because the two have something in common.
In a way, Lent is our interior spring training!
Our Yankees and Mets will tell us how essential these forty days of spring training are. Over the winter they admit they have gotten a bit flabby; they have lost a touch of their skill, and know they need to improve; they have to get back to basics—hitting, fielding, pitching, running—and put aside distraction and sloppiness. They have a goal: opening day, the pennant, the world championship. They have to get rid of bad habits and strive for perfection.
Sound familiar? What spring training is for the physical abilities of our athletes, Lent is for our souls!
We get spiritually sloppy; we forget the essentials of the interior life; we lose sight of our ultimate goal of life everlasting; we, too, need to turn again to the divine exemplar, Jesus, and to His “coaches,” the apostles and saints.
The baseball players have a strategy for their spring training: practice, attention to their weak points, strengthening of their talents, working more closely together as a team.
So do we during Lent. The Church has urged three strategies: prayer, acts of penance, and charity.
We want nothing less than to reach the Hall of Fame, which, for us, is heaven. By ourselves, all alone, it can’t be done. United with Jesus on His cross, and our “team” in the Church, we are then with Him in His resurrection.
A blessed Lent!