There was a time when I used to greet Ash Wednesday and the days to follow with great enthusiasm. Eagerly, I would lay out my Lenten agenda, fired up with the love of The Lord, and set about my way only to crash and burn within a week. Within two weeks I would be drifting back to my "same old used to be."
In those days I was simply full of myself. I thought I would do all these things for God and he would be impressed and He would be there if I needed him. Stand back, Lord, I've got this covered. I'll call you if I need you. Well, I needed Him and was too embarrassed to call.
Times have changed. I go into Lent quietly, with no expectations other than putting my sinfulness before God and seeking his healing, fully acknowledging that I am helpless and unable to clear these blockages by myself. Some of them have been clearing nicely, others take more work, and some are like cancer, in remission only to flare up from time to time. So how I fast, what I abstain from and how I give alms focuses around what vice needs to be cleared and what virtue needs to fill the void. What those virtues are I'm leaving to The Lord to show me.
In the reading in the Vigils this morning, Isaiah is clear that The Lord needs another superficial sacrifice like I need another six inches of snow. What he'd prefer instead are acts and thoughts that will clear our hearts for love. He doesn't want us to be kiss-ups. He wants us to be lovers. Works for me.