“A Lent with All My Heart”. By Fr. Anthony Davis
So, we begin another season of Lent, which is primarily the time of intense spiritual preparation for conquering our temptations, using the means Jesus used during his forty days of preparation in the desert for his public life. It is also the time for repenting of our sins and renewing our lives for the celebration of Easter with our Risen Lord who conquered sin and death by his suffering, death and Resurrection.
Those of you who are as old as I am will remember Lent as a more severe season than it seems to be today. The fasting required was more challenging: adults had to fast every day of Lent and fasting included two meatless meals out of the three, with, of course, nothing between meals, and no meat at all on Fridays. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday demanded full abstinence from meat as well as fasting. So, Abstinence from meat was an everyday Lenten thing, not just an Ash Wednesday/all Lenten Fridays practice. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese in those days! We made personal sacrifices, giving up smoking, candy, alcohol, or something else that we really liked.
And generally, we practiced self-denial on Sundays as well as on
weekdays. We went to Church a lot more, whether to daily Mass, or Stations of the Cross, or for prayer. HOWEVER, many feel that Lent today is much easier. Encouragement is given to do positive things during Lent,so many don’t give up much anymore. Most people don’t find their life during Lent much different from their life in any other season. Following the Second Vatican Council, the Church decided to take a risk and treat us as adults. While they removed
many of the previous rules, they challenged us to observe the season of Lent with all seriousness, to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. -- That is a lot harder than just following rules, but it also bears the potential of really making Lent a time to change our lives and truly become more Christlike.
Life Message: It is in this spirit of Lent, that I suggest what I call, “Give Up”: GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, "In everything give thanks." Constructive criticism is OK, but "moaning, groaning, and complaining" are not Christian disciplines. GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion. GIVE UP looking at other people's worst points! Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have
faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first. GIVE UP speaking unkindly!
Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door? GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. "Love covers a multitude of sins." GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today
and let God's grace be sufficient.
Conclusion: I want to begin Lent this year, using Ignatius' naming of a grace I desire: "Lord, lead me to the fullness of your grace." I want to ask that I might be more intent on prayer and works of charity. And, I want to experience, through the readings and the liturgies each week during Lent, that I'm really reliving the mysteries of my rebirth and salvation. “…become reconciled to God. Behold now isthe acceptable time…” (2Cor.6:2).
Welcome to Lent!