A Holy Lent
The liturgy for Ash Wednesday reminds us that “The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting.”
Further, we are told that we observe a holy Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
We begin with self-examination — taking a brutally honest look at ourselves. This is not simply an exercise of “Woe is me,” or a cursory glance at how we’re doing on our life goals, but a serious and sober look at who we are and where we are in life’s journey, the good and the bad.
That leads us to repentance, to intentionally turn from what draws us away from God and begin anew. Recall that repentance is not just “I’m sorry” but it is the hard work of setting our lives on a new track. To enable that new track, we devote time to reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. This, in turn, leads us back to self-examination and repentance, and we continue the cycle of Lent.
We do not “observe a holy Lent” simply by giving up candy or dessert, though that may be helpful. These things become a proper Lenten fast only when they become an opportunity to focus our lives more and more on Christ.
Self-denial for its own sake is of little value. Self-denial in order to be more fully present in Christ is of immeasurable value!
May your Lent be truly holy!
This column appeared in the February 21, 2021 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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