As we walked to St. Mary's Church this morning for Ash Wednesday Mass, the local bird population was chirping away. Despite an overcast sky the birds seemed to be signing God's praises. They made it sound like Spring is in the air.
When it comes to "soul" matters it is Spring. Each year when lent occurs Spring comes along with it. Lent is a time to prepare the soil of our spirits to receive the seeds or little plants of grace that God is waiting to give us. Lent retains the aspect of "giving up" bad habits, certain foods or desserts, certain TV shows, or movies. An entire litany can spin out things we can give up. Today's gospel sets a kind of criteria for giving up or taking on a good practice: Do what you do not to get approval from others, or their praise. Rather make sure you do it for the heavenly Father who "sees in secret."
The late English author Caryll Houselander suggested something practical in a quote which appears in the monthly Magnificat. She suggested that any real spiritual growth in Lent came about with a steady resolve. She had resolved to simply think of Christ when she was tempted to think about or dwell on herself. The thoughts of self were more like self pity.
For instance, if she felt insulted she would think of Jesus who was mocked and ridiculed during his Passion. She would take the focus off of herself and fix her mental gaze on the Lord Jesus.
Whatever Lenten resolve you make, do it for the Lord, to please him and grow closer to him.
Of course this resolution applies to all 24 hours of the day: to family time, and work space time, to drive time, to TV time, to Internet time, etc.