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Lent Approaches – A Reflection

February 23, 2020

This past weekend Denise and I took a short trip to San Francisco. I guess you could say it was a brief getaway before the very busy season of Lent begins. For this Padre, the Lenten journey is a spiritually challenging, yet rewarding time. For those who choose to, we go deeper in our spiritual reflection and journey.

Yesterday we spent time at Saint Ignatius parish on the campus of the University of San Francisco. As I looked at the statue of Saint Ignatius, I really felt his eyes looking directly into mine. Was he calling me to a time of reflection and silence? Was he calling me to go deeper as I experience this Lenten season?

The transformation of the Lenten journey for me has been a journey in itself. When I was growing up, I don’t remember much about the Wednesday services. What I do remember are the dinners afterwards. I also remember the decisions of what to give up for Lent as I got older. The first Ash Wednesday service I participated in while in Seminary was incredibly powerful. As I read Psalm 51, the weight of that psalm hit me hard. That began a period of introspection for me. Yet there was still a negative weight that fell upon me during Lent.

In the past several years I have begun looking at Lent not so much as a period of “sacrifice” but more as a time to examine my life and see what new ways I can serve the Lord. Is there a new spiritual practice that I can adopt that will carry on after Lent is over.

Are you looking for a different perspective for Lent? Was this indeed what Saint Ignatius was inviting me to do? Perhaps he was leading me towards this reflection from Thomas Merton which is in his book Seasons of Celebration: Meditations on the Cycle of Liturgical Feasts. Even the darkest moments of the liturgy, are filled with joy, and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast… We must remember the original meaning of Lent, the ver sacrum, the Church’s “holy spring” in which the catechumens were prepared for their baptism, and public penitents were made ready by penance for their restoration to the sacramental life in a communion with the rest of the Church. Lent is then not a season of punishment so much as one of healing. (p. 91)

May this season indeed be one of healing for each one of us and for the church, the body of Christ. Perhaps out of that healing, we might share Jesus’s message of love, grace, mercy, and peace.

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