Just as we set aside time to spiritually prepare for Christmas Day, it makes sense to set aside time to prepare for the two most important days of the Christian year. Unlike New Year’s, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and many of the other “holidays” that are celebrated by the secular, non-religious world, the Lenten season is more truly observed by dedicated religious believers. More specifically, for us as Christians it marks the 40-day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. In our conscious recognition of this season, we try humbly to imitate Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness and acknowledge the sacrifice that he made for us by his dying on the cross.
Like Advent, Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand our Lord a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually Easter comes, it is not just another day at church but an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer.
Lent is also an opportunity to contemplate what our Lord really did for us on the Cross – his sacrifice was significant. But ultimately, the purpose of Lent does not stop at sadness and despair – it points us to the hope of the Resurrection and the day when every tear will be dried.
Having grown up in the traditions of the Church, we are all taught that Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration to come on Easter morning. We are also taught that Lent is a period of time where we are called upon to give something up. Like many of you, each year I try to find different and creative ways to make Lent a memorable one. It is more than just giving up something you will simply return to at the end of 40 days. During this time, we are called to grow deeper in our relationship with God and become ever closer with Him in our earthly pilgrimage… to seek justice… love kindness… and walk humbly with our Lord.
Many people make a Lenten promise to add something to their lives during this season. This can be done in conjunction with or in place of giving something up – and is another great way to remind ourselves of the importance of Lent. Maybe it is a commitment to saying a daily Rosary, doing a Lenten devotional, or choosing to do something within our STMC community as an individual or with your family for the poor, the elderly, or the ill.
Whatever this promise is, it begins by solemnly marking our foreheads with ashes of the palms left over from the previous Palm Sunday.
Mr. Steve Garland