Lent: Jump into the deep end
You can’t learn swimming in shallow water, much less on land; you have to get into the deep end. The same can be said for the Holy season of Lent, you have to immerse yourself entirely to experience the fruits of this ‘joyful’ season. You could flirt with the season at its fringe, you could pick and choose some days in the season to fit into your schedule but the Lenten season will not return your affection if you merely flirt with it. This season demands your every attention.
Lent is intense! It requires a bit of pre preparation and the sacrament of reconciliation is one of them. I am not a big fan of the timing of this sacrament which is traditionally organized in preparation merely for Easter. It is my belief that if the season of Lent is a time to turn from sin and return to God (both movements are essential) then we ought to begin the season with the sacrament of reconciliation. Then you truly throw yourself into the deep end! Then you are immersed into the season of Lent. No wading into it, just jump in.
Lent is intense! It requires solitude to take in all that God wants to say to us. That’s why we abstain from stuff, in order to devote more time to God. For all our chatter we have with God the whole year long, this is one time of the year when God speaks louder than He ever does. His mission is clear; for us to sit up and take heed to what He wants to say.
His message is like that of a lover whose gramophone needle has slipped and repeatedly plays the same tune on the vinyl record; He loves us and wants us to come back. He speaks to use the loudest during the daily mass readings in the season of Lent. Listening is one part, being silent is the second and the more essential part. That’s when we move from listening to His Word to be hearing his message.
Lent is intense! It requires resolve. Most people begin Lent with super intentions but find themselves failing and faltering in a couple of days. The resolve to move ahead is quickly and quietly given up, often replaced with pretences. People do slip up; I too have, several times, in my Lenten resolve. The trick is to focus on Jesus and not your resolve. Remember Lent is about His love for you and not what you can do for Him. If you slip up, pick yourself up and move ahead.
Lent is ‘intense’ when lived in the ‘present tense’. Don’t measure your experience by the successes or the failures of past seasons. It must be your here and now experience. Remember, while the message of the Lord is the same, our situations always change. Even though our past is ‘imperfect’, when we allow His words to go through us, then the future will be ‘perfect’.
Fr Warner D’Souza