Lent began on Ash Wednesday Feb. 17th and continues for 40+
days until Holy Thursday eve April 1st. This Lent differs from all
others in that we are in the midst of a Pandemic. Ashes will be sprinkled on
the head of the penitent. There will be less people in attendance at Mass.
Despite similarities, each Lent differs
from any prior Lent we have experienced. Besides being in the midst of a world-wide Pandemic, 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
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
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 willfully adopt better habits.
We also examine
our lives regarding sin and turn away from wrong actions.
The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting,
and almsgiving. This will be explained in more detail later. 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.
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. Think progression, not perfection. It takes time to change and
we don’t always see the incremental progress.
also about enlightenment. Through prayer, reading and celebrating the mysteries
our hearts will be illumined and we will go from the superficial to the
experience a significant, even life-changing Lent as you concentrate on
reaching out to others, personal change and illumination with God.
Based on Fr. Cedric's book: Your Best Lent Ever! Available at the bookstore.