We have completed one week of the Lenten season – a season of fasting, prayer, penance and almsgiving. When we entered the season of Lent, we started off with a strong desire to make this Lenten season different from any other before. However, this past week, there has been an atmosphere of festivity, celebrating both Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year within just a matter of days.
Now that the celebrations are over, let us be a little more serious in our observance of Lent from this week onwards. There are many graces and blessings awaiting us this coming Easter. Everyday should be a realisation that a life-changing moment is being given to us. During this holy season, we once again begin our journey preparing ourselves for greater heights, dwelling deeper into our spiritual lives. Often these questions come to mind: What should I give up this Lenten season? What can I do this Lent to deepen my trust in God? God is slowly and steadily transforming our lives to enable us to experience greater joy, love and service for His people.
Some may find it difficult to fast and abstain, but relatively – today’s Lenten observance is much easier compared to decades and centuries ago. The Church doesn’t require us to go through a complete fast and abstinence every day throughout the 40 days of Lent, like what our Muslim brethren do during the month of Ramadhan.
We may be of the mindset that it is sufficient for us to merely abstain from meat or skip a meal or two a day, in order to observe the holy season. However, the Church invites us to pause and examine our interior disposition more thoroughly. We have to stop and listen to our bodies, which often directly influence our attitude and behaviour. We need to be aware of our true weaknesses, limitations and tendencies and about what is comfortable and pleasurable, in order to make sacrifices accordingly. Our sacrifices should to be gifts to God and to our neighbour. When we make sacrifices these in turn become a powerful form of prayer and fasting. These prayers and fasting remind us of our hunger for God and our preparation for our eternal life.
We have become so negligent in some areas of our lives. The season of Lent invites us to be more self-sacrificing and self-disciplined and thereby allowing our minds and bodies to be in a state of spirituality. We need to put aside our selfish attitudes and not be indifferent towards global ecology and conservation. For this reason, we need Lent and this is what Lent is seen as today.
As we encounter trials and struggles with sin, we should also anticipate something wonderful and exciting in our daily lives. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work,” (2 Cor 9:8). God’s greatest desire is to bless us always and to place us close to His heart. He desires to make all grace flow in every aspect of our lives so that we may carry our good works for His greater glory and for His Kingdom.
Let us make this Lenten season different, by offering the graces and the blessings which we have received from Him to those less fortunate, and make the necessary changes in our lives by reflecting on what repentance is all about. May this holy season of Lent teach us to create a space for God and for one another rather than just for ourselves.
Fr. George Packiasamy