This first phase of Lent calls us to give a personal review of our spiritual and moral lives. Through the threefold tools of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we are invited to name excessive attachments, identify sinful habits or tendencies, and to see how the Lord is calling us back to Him. Why is this essential? By emptying ourselves of any harmful element we become better disposed for the grace with which God desires to fill us. Sin, pride, and ego can often prevent the fullness of this grace. This “letting go” allows God to cleanse, heal, and make us whole. Who wouldn’t want this awesome gift?
As we increase our prayer life at this time, we are not talking about simply “more prayers.” Rather, we’re called to “deeper, more focused prayer” – prayer to surrender whatever holds us captive, prayer to open our hearts to God’s transforming love, or prayer simply offered for others. The popular devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, invites us more deeply into the passion and death of our Savior, making us keenly aware of what He did for us so that we may have the fullness of life.
Almsgiving is an essential part of our Lenten journey, as well. We stress the needs of the poor and the oppressed, including our call to be faithful citizens who promote a Culture of Life as well as caring for God’s creation.
These Lenten practices are not merely intended to satisfy a checklist; each one is called to deepen the hearts of Christ’s disciples. As we discover this deeper conversion, we increase a missionary zeal for the Lord. Echoing the words of Mary, we desire to say, “let it be done unto me according to your word.”
Together, may this time of personal renewal and conversion increase our anticipation for the joy of an eternal Easter.
In Christ Our Savior,