For this article, I’ve been asked to “dig deeper” and to share some of my inner, personal motivations for Lent this year. It’s a challenge I am happy to embrace, even though imperfectly, because throughout my career and even now I have been — and continue to be — inspired by and learn so much from others, especially from remarkable priests and Catholic colleagues. As is true for most of us, these moments or inspirations are not always shared publicly. And of course, none of us is perfect at executing what our souls strive for. That said, here we go.
Lent seems to me to be a thoroughly outward season. It’s a time for all Catholics to redouble our focus on others and give of ourselves more freely and joyously, in preparation for the most important celebration of our faith – Easter Sunday, the Resurrection.
Inward first: Take the challenge
But while Lent calls us to turn outward, that starts by turning inward. It depends on us taking concrete steps to draw closer to Christ, so that His love fills us and overflows. This is what we Catholics call “Magis” – doing more for our Lord, so that we may do more for those around us.
Small steps, Consistency makes the difference
This can be especially challenging for Catholics in business. But what seems like a challenge at first can actually be a great opportunity. It’s just a matter of consciously choosing the right times and places on a daily basis to turn to Christ.
On that note, I’d like to share a few ways that I’ve tried to enter more fully into the Lenten season.
I recently attended a Lenten retreat. (Don’t worry: That’s not where you need to start!) I bring this up because that’s where I heard some good wisdom from Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., the president of the Magis Reason and Faith Center.
He cautioned against our attempts to be too heroic. Instead, he urged us to take baby steps – incrementally increasing our prayer, fasting, and alms-giving during Lent. By starting during this season, Fr. Spitzer pointed out that we’d build a foundation for holiness that would ultimately outlast Lent.
Seen through this guidance, I’ve taken a few small steps. They may even be similar to the steps that you’ve taken.
Fasting is usually the first place to start. Right now I fast from red meat seven days a week (not just Fridays), avoid snacks, and closely watch how much I drink. Each day gives me a new opportunity to consciously choose to give something up. Although I also avail myself of Sundays and solemnities like St. Patrick’s Day and the Annunciation of Mary, when the Lenten fast doesn’t apply.
Remember: Baby steps, not heroic feats!
Mass, Rosary and Adoration
Similarly, I’ve made a conscious decision to spend more time in prayer, which means trying to pray the Rosary daily. Since our Lenten goal is to draw closer to Christ, I also figure I should spend more time in His presence. That’s why I spend an extra hour in adoration every week. I’ve discovered that many churches expand their adoration hours during Lent, so finding a place to pray at His feet has never been easier.
Finally, in Lent, I renew my commitment to go to Daily Mass. This may seem like a serious time commitment, but that’s not how I see it – at least, not anymore.
Inner changes “speak” without words, even when we are unaware
Many years ago, I joined Legatus, where I saw many of the nation’s leading Catholic executives (including Legatus founder, Tom Monaghan) attend Daily Mass.
I was shocked. I wondered: How did they possibly have time for this?
But then I decided to try it out myself. It has now been 25 years, and I have never regretted the few minutes it takes. Whatever time I’ve spent, I believe I’ve gained much more – and therefore been able to give much more to others.
Again, there’s no better time to start than during Lent, when churches in the biggest cities and smallest towns are holding extra Masses. If you’re reading this in Orange County or the greater L.A. area, feel free to come by our offices in Irvine. We have Mass every weekday at 11:50 a.m.
These are only a few of the baby steps I’ve taken over the years. Some of the others include spiritual reading (especially the saints) and spending time with a friend or family suffering from illness or loss.
I believe that anyone who looks can find countless opportunities in Lent. But as Fr. Spitzer reminded me, we need to focus on the baby steps, rather than aim for something out of reach. We have to build the foundation that allows us to one day get that far.
No matter what you do this Lenten season, I believe the smallest choices can make the biggest difference. By looking inward, we can be more effective outward. And we can ultimately transform the world by first transforming ourselves with Christ’s boundless love.
Tim Busch is founder of the Napa Institute and the founder and CEO of the Pacific Hospitality Group.