A time of new birth

Lent is a Teutonic word that was used to describe the spring season, the period between winter and summer. Since the Anglo-Saxon period it has been used as a synonym for the Latin word quadragesima and the Greek word tessarakoste which both mean forty days. Lent, as a period of fasting and prayer, has been practiced in some form since the earliest days of the church; St. Athanasius, in the year 331, called for forty days of fasting prior to Holy Week.

Lent is a time for cleaning our spirit, for contemplation and repentance. Although we tend to focus on what we should give up during Lent, it is an important period of renewal, a time to reflect on new life, hope, and change, a time to grow closer to God and to fill our souls with His grace and love. It is a time for quiet prayer, opening our hearts to hear His voice; giving up the demands, the clamor and distractions of the world around us.

Spring, while not yet upon us, is a time of awakening, a time of new birth, a harbinger of new life and great hope. The earth begins to rise from its slumber and to stir the soul with hints of what is yet to come.

So also is it with Lent. We know that soon we will experience the risen Lord, who from death brings new life, salvation, and peace. Lent foreshadows his passion, death, and resurrection, giving us time to prepare ourselves worthy to receive the magnificent gift of his sacrifice.

Prayer, fasting, and acts of charity are appropriate activities to embrace during Lent; activities that can be transformed into habits that carry forward throughout one’s life.

Daily prayer, such as Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, contemplative prayer or silent reflection and conversation with God, offer wonderful ways to improve your prayer life.

Fasting represents a giving up, a sacrifice of something;  it represents a form of spiritual training that will allow us to overcome evil. Giving up things that are highly desirable is a way to learn control over some part of your life, which leads to greater self-discipline. Lent is about spiritual results and fasting should be done for God’s glory and your own spiritual growth.

While fasting, it is important to replace what has been given up with something positive. As Jonathan Bennett writes “The best way to remove vice is to cultivate virtue.”  Look for ways to help others and fill the void left by the fasting.

During this season of Lent seek out ways to spend quality time with God. Open your heart to hear his voice. Find a quiet place, be silent, and listen, for He tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” [Ps 46:10].

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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