Lent is a Time for Greater Reflection and Deeper Prayer

 

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“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rm 8: 19)

 

Lent offers an opportunity for us as Christians to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment.

The Lent of our childhood was peppered with the question, “What are you giving up?” It gave our young selves a sense of purpose and a tangible way to enter into the season. Not only were we preparing for Easter, we were looking forward to binging on chocolate again.

As adults, we realise that Lent is much deeper than simply giving up something that we enjoy. It is a time for greater reflection and deeper prayer. Grace comes when we recognise that rather than only “giving up” something, this is a season in which God wants to give us something. God wants to help us transform our lives.

 

The Pope’s Lenten Message for 2019

In his annual Lenten message, Pope Francis invites us to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed by fasting, almsgiving and prayer. These Lenten practices are rooted in humility, an acknowledgement that without God, we are nothing.

Pope Francis asks us to live as children of God acknowledging and obeying God’s law, in particular with regards to our brothers and sisters, and to creation. He warns that, “Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests”.

We all know that today’s society is one of excess and instant gratification. Pope Francis asks us to turn from these things, “Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them”.

He reminds us of the transforming power of inviting Christ into our lives and explains that by living our redeemed life in Christ, we benefit creation by “cooperating in its redemption”. He further reminds us that through the transfiguring love of Christ, the saints include all the creatures of the earth in their praise.

Highlighting the destructive power of sin, the Holy Father emphasises that in our failing to live as Children of God, our behaviours toward our neighbours and other creatures becomes destructive.

 

Growing Our Faith

Many of us have good intentions with well laid out plans on how to bring them to bare, but our follow through is not so good. Lent is the perfect time to work on building our spiritual habits by renewing our hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are dust, and that we will one day return to dust. It is also a reminder of what Jesus did for our salvation. Ash Wednesday sets the tone for the Lenten season. It is good to remember that whatever our Lenten activity, it is not end in itself, but should encourage and support our spiritual growth. Any form of spiritual discipline, prayer, repentance and dedication during this season will help us to grow spiritually and result in a closer walk with the Lord.

The basis of observing Lent in this manner is that it grows our faith and our relationship with God, our fellow human beings and our earthly home. When our heart’s desires are in alignment with the Christ’s desires for us, Lent comes alive.

We can remain indifferent and go through the motions by rote, or we can become mindful of our thoughts and actions and choose to engage with those around us and with all of God’s creation.

During this Lenten season, let us breathe in saying “yes” and breathe out saying “thank-you”.

 

Some questions for deeper reflection this Lenten season:

  • What is God inviting me to change this Lent?
  • How do I know what God might be stirring in me?
  • Where am I feeling uncomfortable with the choices I am making, the things I have done and the habitual ways in which I respond?

 

Remember, the Lord speaks to us in those small nagging moments of discomfort in our hearts.

 

Michelle Robertson, OLA Communications Officer

6 March 2019