Why do we observe this season of forty days that we call Lent? The answer lies in the words we find in today’s gospel. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” Lent is given to us to remind us of our humanness and how easily we can slip into patterns of sinfulness, sometimes without even recognizing them.
At the outset of Lent I used the wording that we are setting out on a journey, and indeed we have. I also mentioned that we are not on this journey alone; in fact God has sent his Beloved Spirit to accompany us on this journey as a guide and source of blessed strength when those moments might sneak up on us and weaken us in our resolve to remain faithful to the goal(s) we may have set for ourselves.
I sincerely hope that your Lenten journey is going as you hoped it would. Last Sunday I wrote my column perhaps deviating from my Lenten theme when I wrote about those wonderful saints who have served the Lord in time of plague and pandemic. I hope that wasn’t a distraction but rather a reminder of something that is on the mind of each and everyone of us: covid-19. Keep that as a central part of your Lenten journey as well. We must pray for our own healthy well-being but also for all of those who are suffering from Covid-19. Pray for the sick, their families who are suffering as well, and, of course, for doctors, nurses and all who are caring for the sick and dying.
Today is also what we used to call “Laetare Sunday” marking the half-way point of our Lenten journey. Years ago, and I mean a lot of years ago, we used to look forward to this Sunday because it meant we only had 20 more days for fasting, and doing the penances we chose wo willingly on Ash Wednesday that we wanted to succeed in. Well, that was one of the childhood ways we had of looking at Lent.
Before you know it, we will have arrived at Easter Sunday and I suppose some of us will say ‘Wow! I did it.’ For some that will mean they gave up alcohol for Lent, others maybe smoking. That was a biggie years ago. I’m not sure if it still is today. But the same question s remains, ‘If I could give something like that up for Lent, why go back to it on Easter? Lent is supposed to lead us to change perhaps the direction of our lives or to improve some part of them so we can live a healthier life. Give some thought to what or how you would like your life to be different come Easter.
I began this column with one of the most well-known lines in all the gospels. Our journey of Lent is a very human way of responding to the truth of that verse. I’d like to leave you with this little reflection. I don’t know who wrote it, but it seems to apply so well.
Healing the wounds of the heart
All of us are wounded by sin.
The part of us which is most deeply
damaged by sin is the heart.
The heart is so beautiful, so innocent,
But it can be betrayed, scorned, and broken.
Darkness of heart is the blackest night of all.
A heavy heart is the most wearisome burden of all.
A broken heart is the most painful wound of all.
Only love can heal the wounds of the heart.
Lord, send your Holy Spirit to us,
to heal the wounds of our hearts
so that we may produce the fruits of love.
Have a good week,