“Repent and believe in the Gospel!” These are the words that will be said as ashes are imposed on your forehead in the Sign of the Cross on Ash Wednesday. Ready or not, the Season of Lent begins this coming Wednesday as we begin our annual sojourn into the dessert to confront the self. We are being invited to look into the mirror and ask ourselves, “What do I need to change in my life, so as to be more faithful in living the Gospel way of life?” It calls for absolute honesty, standing naked before God, and recognizing that we are called to conversion and change in the way we are living.
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter. It is the season for renewing our encounter with Christ. Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to create something new within ourselves and around us. We are invited to hear the Word of God and ponder it deeply, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life.
The first element of our Lenten journey is prayer. Prayer gives us the strength we need to overcome our weaknesses and frailties, and enter into a deeper communion with the Lord. In the midst of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love and mercy. Lent is a time of prayer, of more intense prayer, more prolonged prayer, so as to deepen our relationship with the One who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life!
The second key element of Lent is fasting. Fasting helps us to recognize those things we need to remove from our lives because they put up obstacles in our relationship with God and others. Fasting helps us to attune our hearts to that which is essential and to sharing. It is an awareness and responsibility in the face of injustice, abuse, especially to the poor and the little ones, and it is a sign of the trust we place in God and God’s providential care for us.
The third element of the Lenten journey is almsgiving: it points to giving freely, for in almsgiving one gives something to someone from whom one does not expect to receive anything in return. A heart overflowing with gratitude should be one of the characteristics of a Christian, who having received everything freely from God as gift, learns to give freely to others in thanksgiving. Almsgiving helps us to experience giving freely, which leads to freedom from the obsession of possessing, from the fear of losing what we have, from the sadness of one who does not wish to share their wealth with others.
During this Season of Lent let us commit to spending more time with the Word of God so as to help us follow Jesus more closely. If we do this, our experience of conversion will grow as the Holy Spirit works within us to draw us more fully into the mystery of God’s love and God’s desire to lead us into a more abundant life. Let us not waste this holy season, an awesome time for conversion.
— Fr. Dennis, February 23, 2020