In less than a week, we all will celebrate Ash Wednesday, the beginning of yet "another" Lenten journey. I have often wondered if at times we get ourselves "too familiar" with the routine of our own lives and of the cycle of our Church. Have we programmed ourselves so that Ash Wednesday and these forty days that lay ahead are just like any other day in our routine throughout these 365 days of the year? I have often joked that should I ever take a sabbatical, I will use this opportunity, this time, to meet with a therapist in order to learn more about the road I have traveled and the opportunities that lay head. However, if I really think about it, Lent is a great time of spiritual therapy that the Church provides us, FREE OF CHARGE and no need of Insurance. The `therapy’ of Lent directs us to activities exactly foreign to the way life is presently being lived – activities of self-reflection, slowing down life’s pace, listening and taking responsibility for ourselves. This may be difficult for us to accept, yet it stands the test of reason: If our present lifestyles were deemed so healthy, no therapy would be required. Further, there is no therapy known to humankind that is regarded as easy. Those of us entering into spiritual therapy, then, do so out of our own desire to “get healthy with God.” We should be prepared to work hard, set aside proper time for the effort… and prayerfully expect an outcome leading to a healthier, more mature “walk with the Lord.” And so, as we enter this Lenten sabbatical, we are given challenges, goals to move us forward: a. Slow Down. The pace at which we live, our half-sentence conversations and the extreme value we place on multi-tasking, must all come into question. By filling every minute of the day, we are losing our capacity to function at a human level. b. Self-reflect. Having regular intervals to examine oneself from the vantage point of self-transcendence is the capacity that distinguishes the human creature from all others. Ask yourself questions about your motives, your behavior, your goals… in light of a higher, Biblical standard. In turn, get yourself to Confession/ Sacrament of Reconciliation to cleanse your soul and allow God's love and healing to fill the void left by sin and disease. c. Listen. When we’re talking, we’re not listening. And sometimes when we’re not talking, we’re really just rehearsing what we’re going to say next. Listening means placing yourself in a position of “openness to receive another way.” Listening, trust, risk and the possibility of personal change are interrelated. d. Take responsibility for your own actions. Not everything in life is someone else’s fault. Living, as we often do, in the human “default mode,” blaming others to prevent ourselves from getting into trouble, is to live like Adam and Eve. It is regression. Old habits die hard. But die they must. Lent is critical for health and growth. As we measure the days and seasons of our living, somewhere in between instant gratification and hoped-for “pie in the sky” comes this marvelous possibility the church calls “Lent.” Lent is the honest, hard-working, even painful time for spiritual therapy. Why Lent? WHY NOT?