February 10, 2016 by eneubauer
Today marks the beginning of the Lenten season and for that I am filled with a sense of awe and anticipation. Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday in Lent mark the beginning of a wonderful season of personal, spiritual preparation. We understand that our journey through the Lenten season is an opportunity for Christians to prepare for Easter -the celebration of Christ’s work on the cross as He bore the sins of the world in order that all humanity may recognize their need for reconciliation and redemption.
As you prepare to celebrate Lent and as you meditate on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus think on these things:
Preparation of the Heart:
Lent is our call to reflect on and / or recommit to our baptismal promises. This is not just for the Candidate or Catechumen going through the RCIA process but for all Christians seeking true reconciliation with Jesus and strength for the journey ahead. It is our collective call to seek out, through interior self-examination, those areas within our lives that are hindering the development of an intimate relationship with Jesus. What sins have created a roadblock against God’s plan or will for your life? What is it that you can’t seem to overcome or whom can’t you forgive? This is your time to examine self (not others), repent, confess, and be reconciled to our Lord. This is not a rush process – hence the 40+ days of Lent gives one plenty of time to clear ones conscience.
Increased Activity of the Spiritual Disciplines:
Lent is a time of increased fervor in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Our commitment to fasting or abstaining for certain foods creates the needed space and time for increased vigilance in prayer. Some complain that fasting is impractical and cannot be done in a world / society / culture that seems to enjoy living at a break-neck pace. That being said fasting is a call to slow down during Lent so that one is able to calm the mind and examine self. Fasting (sparse and plain meals / limited volume and / or eliminating regular meals for a soft or liquid diet for a period of time) will help the body conform to the will and spirit. My experience with the discipline of fasting is that the benefits out weigh the challenges. For healthy adults fasting has significant spiritual / physical advantages that cannot be underestimated. Abstaining from certain foods, activities and actions can also enable one to create the needed space for quiet prayer, reflection, and self-examination. Fasting enables the individual the needed space and time to develop our prayer life. In addition, this time of self-examination and spiritual preparation would not be complete without increased almsgiving – our financial, in kind donations or charitable work benefiting the least of these among us. Lent will not be complete without these three elements.
Finally, the Lenten season would not be complete without a clear vision of the, “Why behind the what.” One of my favorite sayings this statement reveals the true meaning behind the actions of Lent. We participate, whole-heartedly, in this season because of the gravity of action and meaning behind our Lords work on the cross. There is a real depth of meaning in Christ’s act of salvation and its implications for all humanity. This historic reality is not something that can be explained away, a figment of religious imagination, or legend – this was God’s act of sacrifice once and for all time creating a pathway into true and authentic relationship with our Creator. This relationship is a sign of what is to come – eternal life in the very presence of God. In humble recognition of this truth I will spend time each day reflecting on that wonderful (albeit painful) action our Lord willingly took on our behalf. I want nothing to stand in my way of obtaining intimate relationship as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling – especially self.
May this season me marked by renewal, rediscovery, reconciliation and reunion.
Join me in sacrificing and together let us pray, fast and give to those in need this Lenten season.