Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Happy Lent!

Where do we begin? Well, actually we’ve been here before … many times, so it might even be too familiar to us: Lent! In fact, when I often greet someone during the Lenten Season, I greet them with, “Happy Lent!” Well, you can imagine the response I get, but no, it’s not about trying to make it ‘happy’ or to take lightly the depth of the spiritual journey we are invited into by the Church (or certainly our Pauline Family), but rather to suggest that if we can call Good Friday ‘good’ then we must also be able to see what is ‘happy’ about Lent!

Sometimes we slip into the old “What have I done lately?” for Lent and slide into a comfortable Lent of giving up chocolates, snow cones, sweets … well, maybe not snow cones, but have you found yourself saying, “I can’t think of what else to give up?” Well, could it be a chance rather to say, “What shall I do?” or even better, “Heavenly Father, how shall we go through Lent together to accompany your Son in His Passion this year?” Certainly, you might ‘hear’ all kinds of suggestions that never occurred to you before, but likely you’ll hear just what HE wants you to be about this Lent. So, where do we begin?

The Scripture readings might be most helpful to begin with, especially looking at the Sunday Gospel readings of these first few Sundays of Lent. The First Sunday of Lent was the ‘The Temptation of the Lord’ (Luke 4: 1-13). The Second Sunday was the ‘Transfiguration’(Luke 9: 28b-36), and the Third Sunday is the ‘Samaritan Woman’ (John 4: 5-42) at the well. (Surely, we could go further into the weeks of Lent but this might just be ‘plenty’ for right now!)

No need to ‘change’ any well-chosen disciplines of prayer, fasting or almsgiving for this Lent that you or I have already begun, but if we’re ‘still looking’ or having a hard time ‘keeping’ one of them then lets look at these first few Sunday Gospels given us by the Church. Where are you or I tempted most? (Even we consecrated members of the Pauline Family know well that we’re not outside of being tempted!) Maybe giving up some traditional treats have been helpful but they may not be our real temptations. What have we ‘feared’ giving up, trying to make the ‘eternal’ change in our lives? Where have we not gone for fear of failing or not ‘winning the race’ and crossing the Easter Sunday finish line? Is there a habit our spouse has drawn to our attention or an annoyance that a co-worker has that we’ve not handled well? (Going deeper is hard but rewarding both now and forever!)

And the Transfiguration? Might there be some aspect of our lives that we have yet turned over to Jesus Master to glorify within us? Have we been ‘too busy’ to delve into the daily spiritual reading that we know would transform us? Is there a hesitancy to sit quietly before Jesus Master in the Blessed Sacrament for more than our devotional prayer, anxious about it being ‘too quiet’? Is there an illness, a loss, or a tragedy that we’ve not wanted to give over to the LORD thinking, “That’s not for Lent!” (Going deeper is hard but rewarding now and forever!)

And, yes, there is a ‘Samaritan Woman’ in all of us that truly yearns to be completely conformed to Jesus Master! It might be our need to really spend this Lent humbly (yet always confidently) asking for His forgiveness and mercy, or extending it towards another. Another who has hurt us strongly, maybe even intentionally, but nonetheless has kept us yearning for the ‘living water’! Whatever it might be, it’s well worth the risk and vulnerability of letting Jesus Master meet you or me ‘at the well’, and begin to renew within us a thirst for being His first above all else! (Going deeper is hard but well worth it now and forever!)

Never afraid to ‘begin again’ when necessary, I think you and I might find this to be the most rewarding and most blessed Lent ever! And therefore, we might just say by the end of it, “O Happy Lent’!


Fr. Ed was ordained to the priesthood in May 2000 for the Archdiocese of Boston. He was assigned to three different parishes in the Archdiocese from 2000-2010, when he was appointed to the Faculty of Saint John's Seminary, Boston, where he is Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation. He is also the Spiritual Director & Liaison in the Archdiocese to Homeschooling Families as well as the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima (Boston Division). He recently made his First Profession in the Pauline Family Institute of Jesus the Priest.

1 comment:

Terry G. said...

Great article Father Ed ... God bless!