Just a few days ago we took our first steps on an annual journey that we call Lent. Today we are at the first major stop in that journey, the very first Sunday among several that will lead u to the great week we call ‘Holy’ and then onto the celebration of the greatest event of all, Jesus triumph over death. But back to where we are today, we’ve just begun and I hope our first steps have been filled with the grace that will enable us to continue on seeking the grace of renewal of mind, heart and soul.
Well! How has our start been going? Oh! I know it’s only been a few days but a good start is so helpful when we consider that we have a rather long way to go. I hope you haven’t forgotten that we have started this journey, not alone, but with the companionship of the Holy Spirit. Remember, my words a week ago reminding us that when Jesus entered into the dessert to be tested He did not enter there alone, He was led there by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was to be his guide and companion and the source of strength when human endurance was put to the test, when temptation seemed so inviting and easy and He had to remain strong in the face of those temptations.
I suppose that in some ways, maybe many ways, it’s harder to make the Lenten journey today that it was years ago. Stop and think about it. Years ago we were reminded loudly and without doubt what we were to do for Lent: no meat on Fridays, parishes had a Lenten retreat; many churches had a weekly Lenten prayer service during the week when very often a visiting preacher was invited to come and speak to us. Then, every Friday of Lent we had the Stations of the Cross, very often once in the afternoon for the children in the parish school and then again in the evening for the adults. What more could we ask for; it was hard to forget that we were in Lent with all those reminders around us being repeated week after week.
I remember that when I was in grammar school our parish (St. Mary’s, Southside) had a parish Lenten prayer service every Wednesday evening. It consisted of a rosary, a sermon and, of course, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I remember too, attending those Wednesday evening services with my Mother. No matter what the weather, we left home right after supper and walked the eight or nine blocks to church, attended the service and then walked home again afterwards. Nobody thought anything about it, you just did it. It seemed soooo easy! Today, there are many distractions and you might say, ‘temptations’ standing in the way, ready to lure us off to do something else. Maybe it would be a sporting event we want to attend, a concert, or, God forbid, maybe a special motion picture we wanted to see. Back in the fifties, and even long
after those days, we wouldn’t even think of putting anything else in the way of our Lenten journey.
It’s all up to us isn’t it? Well, it was then, too, of course, but it seemed the choices were made for us back then. Well, not really, because we always have to make the choice for ourselves. I hope you haven’t forgotten that you’re not the only one making this Lenten journey. We must remember to pray for and with one another being mindful that we are all making on this wonderful journey and we need to be helpful to one another by praying for each other. The Spirit has been given to each of us but to all of us as well.
May the grace of this Lenten season bless us all with a changed mind, heart and soul and when we arrive at the blessedness of Easter morning, may we all rejoice together with the Risen Lord.