It is important to remember that the preparation of Lent is not simply meant to inculcate in the faithful faith-based ethics or self-improvement, but to prepare us for worship. The reception of ashes is not intended to be a sign of a vague, cultural association with the Catholic Church, but an external reminder that from the day of Ash Wednesday forward, you are preparing yourself for the awe-filled observances of Holy Week. Lent prepares us to let go of the superficiality and lack of attentiveness that can so often inhibit our appropriation of the Church’s faith. Heightened attentiveness and intensified reflection concerning the startling culmination of Christ’s Incarnation in suffering, death, and resurrection highlights that what is revealed to us in Christ are not merely ideas about God or feelings of a spiritual nature, but how God has chosen to relate to us in the most extraordinary, unexpected, and undeserved way. The Church asks us to accomplish three practices that are integral to our observance of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
First Sunday of Lent • February 21
Living Today’s Liturgy
Throughout history, God has given His people signs. Our season of Lent offers us God’s sign that it is time to stop the ordinary routines of our lives, create some desert space, and listen more attentively for God to reveal His presence. We are asked to unplug from our attachments, compulsions, obsessions, addictions, routines, and busyness to clear the slate and take stock in who we have become. We are asked to remember the ancient sign of God’s covenant with humanity in which He vowed to nurture, sustain, and protect the relationship He has with His people. Once we slow down a bit and clear away some of the clutter, we can see how the journey of our life is unfolding. We can see what brings us in and out of tune with God’s love and how we can better imitate God’s loving fidelity in our relationship with Him. Even though some good solid self-denial is the order of the day, greater happiness and wholeness will be the fruit of our labors. A pleasant journey through the desert!
Question of the Week
We hear about Jesus’ temptation in the desert and his inaugural gospel message to those living in Galilee. Jesus saw repentance as necessary to believe his good news. As we begin the Lenten journey, what aspects of your life require repentance? ©LPi