March 2nd is Ash Wednesday this year. It is the beginning of Lent when we reflect on the sufferings of Jesus, our Savior, who came to ransom us from sin. It is also the time when we try to become closer to Jesus and renew ourselves. We look forward to Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus who promises us that we too can rise and be with Him for eternity if we keep His commandments to Love God and one another.
There are many meanings of the word "Lent" in the English language, but the one we are focusing on is "springtime." When we think of spring, we think, of growth, renewal, and resurrection.
First, I think of an awakening of the vegetation as it makes a path through the soil, pushes obstacles out of its way, and seeks nourishment for growth. All this enables it to provide food and beauty for our world.
That is what "lent" is about. We take time to examine our relationships with God, our brothers, and sisters. We ask the Lord to help us to discern what needs to happen to allow our spirits to grow. We seek to know the obstacles in our path and how to remove them. We also look to ways of nourishing our souls for greater growth.
What are obstacles in my path?
Do I neglect my prayer life?
Am I unwilling to forgive? Ask the Lord and/or a spiritual friend for help.
Am I spending too much time watching TV or with social media, or something else so that I do not pray enough? What can I give up in order to spend more time with the Lord?
Do I enrich the soil by studying the Bible, doing spiritual reading, listening to spiritual songs or sermons, engaging in faith-sharing circles, etc.? Ask the Lord what he wants of you.
In the spring, we also see renewal. Trees, which seemed to be dead in the winter, begin to bud forth and gift us with their beauty and welcomed shade. It may be that the Lord simply wants me to renew a holy practice that I have let go of because of busyness or other reasons.
All this is in preparation for the new life which we will celebrate at the Easter Vigil and Masses with Alleluias and renewal of our Baptismal Vows. Then, we will be able to bring the light of Christ to our world in such need of hope and love - more than ever: This year we are faced with more challenges at the same time than I can remember in my lifetime:
The pandemic and all that entails.
Lack of adequate hospital beds
Lack of adequate medical staff
The loss of loved ones
Limited ability to gather with others
Threat of War
Education affected, etc.
However, God is still in the heavens, so we should not fear…
I am with you;
Do not be
I am your God
I will help you,
I will uphold you
- Isaiah 41:10
Reflection Question: Ask the Lord to help you to know in what area/s he wants you to grow during this Lenten Season.
Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D., Historian, certified archivist emerita
“Lento” is an Italian word that signifies a direction in music – to go in a slow manner. Spiritually, we can see Lent as a time to go slowly, to slow down our usually hectic lives, and re-connect with God. If you have ever planted a garden or even grown some flowers from seeds, you know that you have to wait for the seeds to germinate. Growth may be slow but the end results are often beautiful and/or delicious. So, it is with our spiritual life. The seed might be a few quiet minutes with the Lord at the start of our day. This could grow into a calm demeanor during the day and greater trust in God. Mother Katharine said that “Growth must be gradual to be enduring.” We can try this spring to slowly come into a closer relationship with God.
Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I was truly enlightened by your blog this week. Your description of the spiritual processes of growth, renewal, and resurrection, using the example of how nature removes obstacles in its path as it seeks nourishment for sustenance is so relatable. We can use this illustration, along with your questions that help us identify some of the obstacles that stand between us and our relationship to God, to offer others an understandable explanation of the importance of Lent in our spiritual development.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David. ESV
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord