Conversion this Lent: Look UPWARDS and FORWARDS

If you are reading articles on the HM Youth website, there is probably a desire to be good and love God within you. But if you get used to the idea of thinking that you are, all things considered, a pretty good person, you have a grave danger of getting “stuck” in your spiritual life. The saints were never simply “content” or satisfied with where they were. I have to say that when I first began to read the lives of the saints, I was always taken aback by their negativity when they wrote or spoke about themselves. It seemed rather exaggerated to me. Many saints described themselves as terrible sinners and full of miseries. They were painfully conscious of their own nothingness and weakness. But the saints were among the holiest people who walked upon this earth! Why in the world were they so pessimistic? 

Maybe it is because instead of looking down, as we tend to do, they looked up. Instead of looking down to other people and comparing themselves those who do not love God and do not care about Him, they looked upwards into heaven and saw the greatness of what the Lord was calling them to be.

This Lent, try to spend some time in prayer examining your conscience in a different way: looking upwards to the greatness of the Christian vocation, and forward, into Christ’s eyes, like the saints did. 

Look upwards: Consider the sublime graces the Lord has bestowed on you and wishes to increase in you! Divine filiation, inhabitation of the Holy Trinity, union with God, participation in His nature, all thanks to His Incarnation, Passion, death and Resurrection, all for love of you… And do you spend hours doing useless things on your phone? Really? Are you motivated in your actions more by your pride than by a sincere desire to love God? Do you spend excessive vanity time in front of a mirror? Do you sometimes put yourself in environments where you know you will easily fall into sin and superficiality? The list could go on and on… But the question is, are you giving glory to God through your life and your decisions, every day? 

Look into the eyes of Christ himself: Consider His great love for you and how much He wants you to grow and to be more united to Him. Your sins may not seem all that grave compared to so many others in this world. But if you gaze sincerely into the eyes of Christ, even the slightest resistance to His love for you—to His will for you—will fill you with shame. 

But we cannot just leave it there. This is certainly not just about feeling bad. The saints did not see their miseries and give up, no: the recognition of their misery allowed them to fly into the arms of God and beg Him to have mercy upon them, to strengthen them, to enlighten them. Ask the Lord to show you your misery and need for conversion, and be ready to hear him respond, as He did to St. Faustina: “You see, My child, what you are of yourself. The cause of your falls is that you rely too much upon yourself and too little on Me. But let this not sadden you so much. You are dealing with the God of mercy, whom your misery cannot exhaust. Your misery will disappear in the depths of My mercy.”