Lent began on Ash Wednesday Feb. 14th and continues for 40+
days until Holy Thursday eve March 28th.
This Lent offers us an opportunity for growth. Lent isn’t a sprint, it
is a marathon. The issue(s) you are dealing with now will change as your
journey progresses. Start with one main issue and see what surfaces as you
Each Lent differs from any prior Lent we have experienced.
With each subsequent Lent, we are in a new and unique point of our life cycle
and, as such, require fresh insights into the areas where we require growth. We
are in different places spiritually. We may have lost a loved one and are
grieving. The experience of each Lent is cumulative. The sum of our lifetime of
Lents taken together prepares us for our future meeting with God.
One way of looking at Lent is as a retreat. Jesus himself
retreated into the desert for that long period. During this sojourn he fasted,
was tempted, and made life defining choices. In the same way during the season
of Lent, we believers retreat with the catechumens to wrestle with evil,
scrutinize our hearts, and make life giving choices. A retreat is a time of
spiritual growth and illumination. Lent is all about purification and
enlightenment. As with any retreat, many ups and downs, mood shifts, and awakenings
occur during this sacred period.
Our life now is a preparation for our own death and meeting
with God. Lent serves to awaken us to this true meaning of life in an intense
way. We prepare for Easter and ready ourselves for our own passing.
Traditionally, Lent has been viewed as a penitential
season. We express this by wearing purple at our liturgies. Penance means to be
sorry for wrong deeds and to express our remorse through right actions. These
actions shouldn't just be individual and internal but also external and social.
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #110)
Lent is a time when we emphasize self-discipline and self-
control. We must curb and gain control over our appetites and will. The best
way to turn away from bad habits is to be motivated and replace them with
better habits. We also examine our lives regarding sin and turn away from wrong
The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and
almsgiving. We pray to come to know God. We fast in obedience in order to gain
self-control. We give alms to help others and to grow in generosity. During
this long season, we hope to progress in our ongoing conversion. We desire to
get closer to God and to experience intimacy. We want to gain self-control. The
goal is to grow in virtues such as generosity, patience, and forgiveness. The
only way to progress in virtue is to practice virtuous deeds.
Remember, the journey of Lent is not a sprint, but a
marathon. If things don’t seem to be happening right away, be patient. Lent is
about our personal purification: Personal change. This is called “on-going
conversion.” Conversion is our movement towards God, our improvement as God’s
people and our striving to become the best we can be. Think progression, not
perfection. Change is incremental and will happen if we stay determined.
Lent is also about enlightenment. Through prayer, reading
and celebrating the sacramental mysteries our hearts will be illumined and we
will deepen our walk with God. Lent is the season to go from the superficial to
You will experience a significant, even life-changing Lent
as you concentrate on reaching out to others, personal change and illumination
Excerpts from the book: Your Best Lent Ever! By Fr. Cedric
found at: www.frcedric.org or 713-464-4932.