Halfway there (Living on a prayer)

We are about halfway through Lent. All I could think of when I wrote this is the song “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Not that I think that Bon Jovi is a great theologian or even an amazing Christian music artist, but nonetheless, this song came to my head. The words in the chorus are “Whoa, we’re halfway there, whoa livin’ on a prayer.” We are living on a prayer!

I do not know about anyone else, but I know for me the beginning of Lent and the end of Lent are the easiest times of sacrifice for me. The beginning is easy because, well, it’s the beginning. It’s a fresh sacrifice. It’s when our resolve is the strongest. The sacrifice almost seems easy — almost. 

The end of Lent becomes easier as well because we see the end in sight. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel (or in my case, I can see the raspberry lemonade in the glass as I gave up all beverages but water). The end of Lent we convince ourselves to push through because it’s only one more week or a few more days. 

The middle of Lent is where I start to falter. It is in the middle that I start to struggle and really want to give up on my sacrifice. Side note: It’s kind of like our faith journey. In the beginning of life it is easy to believe in God. We are young, unjaded by the reality of the world. Towards the end of our lives we believe in God because He becomes all we long to see. It is the middle of life that we start to waver in our faith. We see death and destruction and we question if God is really there. We see brokenness and sadness and doubt that God could really be loving. We hear “facts” that tell us that God does not exist and we begin to question what we have always believed. It’s the middle that’s the most difficult. 

So back to Lent. It’s about this time in my Lenten journey that the sacrifice becomes a struggle. It’s this time in Lent that I need to be living on a prayer (good job Bon Jovi). Prayer is one of the pillars of Lent. Along with sacrifice and almsgiving, prayer is the center of the Lenten season. Adding more prayer to our day-to-day lives is an important part of Lent. We can use this prayer to help in or sacrifice. We know that Jesus went off into the desert for 40 days to pray. Prayer has to be essential to our Lent.

This week at Mass at Bishop Stang High School, Deacon Ouellette was talking about the fact that Lent should change us. He talked about how our goal should not be to finish and celebrate that we successfully stayed committed to our sacrifice. Our goal at the end of these 40 days should be to be a new person. We are not told in Scripture that we need to be a better person but rather a new person. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). 

I was reading an article on Lent and the author, Father Paul Jarvis wrote that we pray more during Lent not that God finally hear us but that we finally hear God. Jesus retreated to the desert to get away from the noise so He could hear His Father. We are called to do the same thing. We are trying to listen to that still, quiet voice of God so that He may change our hearts and our minds.

This is the fundamental core of the Lenten season. We become a new creation in Christ. We die to hold habits or things that take us away from Christ, and we rise again in new life in Christ. We need to allow these 40 days to leave us profoundly changed. As you continue on this Lenten journey, listen to the wise advice of Bon Jovi and live on (a) prayer!

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.com.

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