We are already halfway through Lent. If it has been a time of growth – well done! But if we have yet to hold steadfast to the Lenten observances well – almsgiving, prayer and fasting – we need not give up hope. Perhaps we have become a bit negligent in some areas of our lives, and need a little extra self-discipline to become more spiritual in mind and body.
Lent is not all about giving up sweets, chocolates or going on diets. It is about abstaining from TV shows, video games, surfing the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or other things that we enjoy. Do we realise how much time they consume? Lent is a time to give up the things we enjoy and instead, utilise our time wisely and fruitfully until Easter. It is a time to give up our sinful habits or sinful attitudes and focus on God. It is about repentance, which means giving up sin in order to prepare our hearts for Easter. We need to prepare our hearts for Easter by setting aside time for self -examination, repentance and change.
When I was younger, I was dissatisfied with my life. I wanted to make changes, because I knew that something was wrong. I also wanted more out of life, but I did not know where or how to start. It was during Lent that I found a path in the right direction and I got myself started afresh – so I exercised discipline and I improved my spiritual life. Certainly, these changes helped my spiritual journey and gradually my life became better and my path surer and clearer.
We cannot expect immediate miraculous events to take place in order for our lives to change for the better. We have to work hard and we have to make a sincere effort to nourish our spiritual life, so that God can nurture and strengthen us. I am sure that when you engage in spiritual discipline, especially during this season of Lent, you will see an improvement in your journey, as your life becomes more holistic.
This Lent, do your best to slowly root out sin and cultivate holiness. Lent is also a very good time to refocus our efforts and renew our commitment, even though we may fail – “for though the upright falls seven times, he gets up again…” (Proverbs 24:16). Even failing in our commitments can help us grow in humility and provide insightful knowledge of our own spiritual existence. The practice of spiritual discipline helps you and I integrate our lives into a whole.
I hope and pray that we all experience the best Lenten Season ever, this year. It can be our best Lent if we get rid of our sins, our failures, our worries and feelings of rejection, resentment, hurt, anger and bitterness.
The Lenten Season should help strengthen our commitment to this lifelong journey towards God and become more connected to His will. Let us observe a Holy Lent, where we rediscover and relearn what it means to be holy. Let us become a more merciful and compassionate community, a community that does not condemn others, but rather a community, which loves and forgives unconditionally. That is the true heart of Lent.
“Even if I fall a thousand times a day, I would still rise and say to God, ‘Nunc Coepi’, (Now I begin)” – (Venerable Bruno Lanteri, 1759-1830).
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy