How do we approach the Season of Lent?

Lent is a time of preparation, a time for reflection, a time for introspection. Ultimately we are preparing for the Easter celebration, especially the Easter Triduum, the high point of our faith, the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus died so that we could be saved. His death and resurrection cleansed us from our sins and gave us new life. At our baptism our sins were washed away and we became children of God, true sons and daughters and heirs to His Kingdom.

For those candidates who have been and are preparing for admission into the Church they will be baptized at the Easter Vigil and welcomed into our communities of faith. It is perhaps one of the most compelling and joyful events in the entire liturgical year; one that reminds us that Jesus redeemed us with his own baptism, death, and resurrection and that through our baptism we also die to sin and are reborn into a new life.

At baptism we promise to reject Satan, the glamor of evil, and to refuse to be mastered by sin but these are promises we often find difficult to keep. As descendants of Adam and Eve we are born with the inclination to sin and we struggle throughout our lives trying to keep from doing so. At the Easter Vigil we have the opportunity to stand with those who are to be baptized and rededicate ourselves to a life of grace, to renounce sin, and to be reborn and welcomed into the unconditional love of God.

But rebirth cannot and will not happen without preparation. Like any endeavor in which we choose to engage we need to periodically stop and review our progress, analyze our performance, and make any mid-course corrections necessary to keep us headed in the right direction. If we wish to live our lives as Christians and rightful heirs to His Kingdom then we need to occasionally do a reset, and that is the purpose of Lent.

So how do we approach the season of Lent? How do we prepare for our rebirth and the resurrection of our Lord? Let’s look first at “what” we should be preparing, for when we come to understand the what, the how will become clear.

God has given each of us an immortal soul which is what makes us uniquely human. Our souls are sanctuaries where only two (no more, no less) can dwell—you and God alone. Only you and God know what lies within your soul; it is your place to welcome Him and to be in communion with your Creator. Sin stains the soul, it changes its character, darkens the spirit; noise and clutter invade drowning out any meaningful communication with God.

So, it only makes sense that the “what” we should be preparing is our immortal soul, cleaning house to make it spotless and worthy of God’s presence; sweeping out the clutter and wiping the stains of sin and neglect, and giving God a place of welcome where he can touch our hearts, heal our pain, and give us peace.

One place to start is to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Beginning Lent with a clean spirit and a clear conscience will turn a Lenten “ordeal” into a time of anticipation and excitement. After all, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” so cleaning the sanctuary of your soul can only bring you closer to God.

During Lent we are called to prayer, fasting, and alms-giving but what exactly does this mean? On the face of it these sound negative and a bit tedious, but they really are positive actions that can help prepare us for what is to come.

Prayer is communicating with God in a very personal way. Rather than asking God for things, why not spend a few minutes each day thanking Him for all that you have received. After all, He already knows what you need, so a little gratitude on your part couldn’t hurt. And how much of your time does it take to say three little words: “Thank You God!”

Fasting calls for us to reduce our consumption of things, generally food, but it can be other things as well. Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert. No one is asking us to go that far and cutting back on a few calories is not necessarily a bad thing for most of us. By controlling our physical passions we open our souls to the presence of God in our lives.

It can also open our eyes to the needs of those around us. We are all created in the image and likeness of God; all of us, rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, the haves and the have nots. For many of us, Lent is an opportunity to help those less fortunate. All that we have are gifts from God. Rather than holding all our gifts for our own gratification let us welcome the opportunity to freely share our gifts with others.

Let us journey this year to a new rebirth in faith, thanking and praising God for all that we have received, and let the love of God bring peace and salvation to all.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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