Reflect. Repent. Conversion. Renew. Reconcile. Love.
These are but a few of the words that flow into my mind when I think about the season of Lent and the joyous celebration of Easter that follows.
Being Christians, we are always reminded of the greatest sacrifice ever made for us - which is, of course, Jesus suffering and dying on the cross for our sins. During Lent we reflect more on this amazing act of total love and try to unite more closely with Our Lord through our own sacrifices. Abstinence from meat on Fridays and, additionally, fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is one way to do this. So, do those of us who are vegetarians luck out? Eat as usual on days of abstinence? I can’t speak for other Catholics who happen to be vegetarians, but I give up my non-meat meats in place of the real thing as a way to be in communion with Christ and the Church during this penitential season. Many people also give up something else during Lent as a way to unite more fully with Christ in His suffering.
Jesus died and on the third day rose again. This is the very core of all Christianity. Without Our Savior there would be no Christians, no Catholics. Like Jesus, we will die one day. But with our belief in Him and the gifts of grace and faith we, too, will rise again.
Lent is a time to reflect on our sins and the sorrow we feel for committing them. It’s a time to repent and rejoice in God’s merciful forgiveness. Through celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are brought back into union with Our Lord. While this sacrament is always available and utilizing it anytime of year is greatly encouraged, it is especially important during the special seasons of the Church calendar such as Lent.
Your word says it can be.
Change our minds this time,
Your life could make as free.
We are the people Your call set apart.
Lord, this time change our hearts.*
The above passage from one of my favorite church hymns describes quite well one of the things I find important, especially during Lent… changing our hearts. Through the sacrifices we make, the reflections of and repenting for our sins we are converted into a new self... a new person with (hopefully) a deeper, richer and renewed relationship with Our Lord. Holy Saturday is also the time when many are baptized and join the church, experiencing their own conversion and perhaps beginning a completely new life in Christ. As they are baptized we all renew our baptismal vows, which gives us the opportunity to reflect on, renew and deepen our own faith.
Love... the last of the words I mentioned above is, by far, the most important. Our God is a loving, forgiving God. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to earth to pay for our sins. Jesus loves us so much that He willingly obeyed the Father by suffering and dying on that cross for us. Without this great love, without Jesus, where would we be?
Peace in Christ,