The nature of the question determines the nature of the answer. Ask someone a breezy, “How are you?” and you’ll get a breezy, “Fine.” What else would you expect? The same with asking questions that require only yes or no answers. “Did you like that restaurant?” If you want more, you have to ask for more. “What did you think about that restaurant?” The question now requires an answer that drops a notch or two in terms of detail, and also in depth.
Lent is a time for self-examination, a time for asking ourselves questions that reveal something of the nature of our spiritual lives. If we ask only superficial questions—”How is my spiritual life?”—we’ll get only superficial answers—”Fine.” But if we ask deeper, more probing questions, we might just open up new and rewarding territory for exploration.
A good question to ask at any time, but especially during Lent, is: “What is the state of my soul these days?” Think about it. How do I even identify what, or where, my soul is? How would I know what state my soul is in? What would be the signs? And so we begin turning over in our minds the possibilities.
But there are many good questions to guide our Lenten self-examination. What unfulfilled longing haunts my daydreams? What are the things I feel passionate about? Who do I need to spend more time with? What can I profitably live without? Ask away … and you shall receive.