“Lent provides us with an opportunity to open ourselves to conversion,” writes clinical psychologist Richard B. Patterson. “It is a time of reflection, a cleansing of our spirits. It is an opportunity to face whatever within us that prevents us from fully embracing our spiritual paths. Facing addiction or trauma or depression or death is not easy.”

“But if any of these are a part of your life, this Lent you might consider some steps that can open a door for conversion,” he says in an article he wrote for the March issue of Franciscan Media’s St. Anthony Messenger.

Here are Patterson’s five steps:

— Take a moral inventory of your faults and strengths. Share it with a person you trust, perhaps a spiritual director.

— Open yourself in prayer and meditation to God’s guidance to those areas of your life in need of conversion. You might not like God’s answer.

–- If you are battling any of the issues discussed here, take Lent as an opportunity to begin a path of healing by seeking counseling and/or spiritual direction.

— Lent has been a time of giving something up. So consider this Lent to be an opportunity to give up any fear, self-hatred, shame, or resentment that clouds your spiritual path.

— If you’ve experienced conversion, then pause in gratitude this Lent: gratitude for the opportunity to convert and gratitude for the people, places, and things God may have put in your path to help you embrace the invitation to convert.

“We all face tragedy and challenges in life. When you make the choice to heal, your spirit is awakened through a nurturing of self and faith,” adds Patterson.