US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Lent Day 2: Joyce Rupp

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Each day of Lent (minus Sundays) we'll bring you words of wisdom from spiritual guides.

2. Joyce Rupp: Focus on one thing only
Six months ago I lived the simple life of a pilgrim, walking 450 miles on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. During those seven weeks all I did each day was walk toward St. James Cathedral in Santiago. I didn't have to hurry madly to get there, pit myself against the walking pace of other pilgrims, or worry if my clothes were fashionable. I had just one main thing to do: walk. It took 10 days before my distracted self finally "just walked." From then on, little else occupied my mind and heart. It was the most focused and free I have ever been. 

Since returning home, I see how easy it is to succumb to the subtle cravings of my superficially-oriented culture. It seduces me to clutter up my life, dress in a certain way, be knowledgeable on every subject, scurry around as busily as everyone else, and work in a frenetic fashion. When I give in to these things I am thrown off balance. I lose my peace and sense of inner direction. I lack clarity in my spiritual goals, forget the truths preached by Jesus, and experience frustrating days of self-orientation.

Lent is a time to clear away the cultural debris that disorients me on the Christian path. The Lenten acts of deprivation I choose are of little value unless they help my mind and heart to be more attentive and focused on one thing only: to walk the gospel message--to love as Jesus loved. All else is secondary.

Rupp is a member of the Servants of Mary community and the award-winning author of numerous books.

Find spiritual advice for Lent from other guides in 40 days to a new you.