The Sea­son of Lent: A time of Re­pen­tance

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - SPORTS - Fr. Lee Lainey

On Wed­nes­day March 1, many Chris­tians around the world cel­e­brated what the Church calls Ash Wed­nes­day, which be­gins a 40-day sea­son which we call Lent.

Why does Lent last for 40 days? Be­cause this sea­son re­counts the 40 days and 40 nights Je­sus spent in the desert re­flect­ing on his mis­sion, his re­la­tion­ship with God and con­fronting the re­al­ity of evil: “He fasted forty days and forty nights, and af­ter­wards, he was famished.” (Matthew 4: 2 ).

When Je­sus came out of the desert, he was stronger, more fo­cused on what God was call­ing him to do and his re­la­tion­ship with God was ever more deep­ened as he pre­pared him­self for the tri­als we was about to en­dure - his suf­fer­ing and death which would ul­ti­mately lead to the res­ur­rec­tion.

Lent is a time of re­turn­ing to God. It is a time to con­fess how we keep look­ing for joy, peace and hap­pi­ness in all the wrong places, with­out find­ing what we truly de­sire. Only God can give us what we want and need. So how do we rec­on­cile our­selves with God?

Lent is of­ten de­scribed as a jour­ney, and each per­son’s jour­ney through Lent is unique, and the jour­ney is unique each year we ob­serve it. Just like for Je­sus, God is call­ing each of us to em­bark on this won­der­ful and life-chang­ing jour­ney of self­dis­cov­ery, of con­ver­sion. Lent is the Chris­tian’s wilder­ness or desert ex­pe­ri­ence.

We are called ev­ery year dur­ing Lent to en­ter deep within our­selves, in the se­cret places of our hearts and con­science be­cause it is in the heart that the true work of Lent takes place. And it is in that deep­est, most in­ti­mate part of our­selves where we con­front our demons, our sins- guilt, anx­i­ety, etc.. so that we can be healed and re­newed. By do­ing so, we re­claim our Chris­tian iden­tity.

Ashes are put on our fore­heads in the shape of a cross. The use of ashes goes back to Old Tes­ta­ment times when sack­cloth and ashes were worn as a sign of penance. They re­mind us of the re­al­ity of death. In or­der for a true, deep con­ver­sion of the heart to take place, we need to let God trans­form us from the in­side, so that we can die of what­ever is sin­ful in us - false attachments, greed, anger, ha­tred and so on. By do­ing so, we will be ready for a re­birth, a new be­gin­ning at Easter. But we must take the time for our hearts to dive in the ashes and re­main there for a while so that they can do their work in us.

The ac­tions of piety - Prayer, Fast­ing and Alms­giv­ing - of which the Gospels speak are the con­crete ways we make true con­ver­sion hap­pen. How­ever, they must be gen­uine. Je­sus is chal­leng­ing us to pray, fast and give alms (works of char­ity), but to do it in a way that hon­ours God, rather than draw­ing at­ten­tion and praise to our­selves. Je­sus says: “Be­ware of prac­tis­ing your piety be­fore oth­ers in or­der to be seen by them;” (Matthew 6: 1). Then Je­sus says in verse 4: “and your Father who sees in se­cret will re­ward you.” It is not an out­ward show to en­hance our self-im­age, but about deep­en­ing our re­la­tion­ship with God.

So dur­ing this Len­ten sea­son, let us strive for an in­te­rior en­counter with God in the whole of our lives, in ev­ery­thing which makes up our life, in or­der to ar­rive at the deep con­ver­sion in God’s pres­ence. As the Lord says in the book of the prophet Joel: “re­turn to me with all your heart, with fast­ing, with weep­ing, and with mourn­ing; rend your hearts and not your cloth­ing”. (Joel 2: 12-13). St Paul says: “see, now is the time of Sal­va­tion!.” (2 Corinthi­ans 6: 2 ). Amen!

Father Lee Lainey

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.