It was heartening to see the faithful attending mass for the observation of Ash Wednesday despite the weather being unpleasant, especially during the 8 pm Mass. So why not make the same commitment to participate in daily Mass (in addition to Sunday Mass) to receive the Holy Eucharist during the season of Lent? It is good to long, yearn, hunger and thirst for Jesus, our Bread of Life.
Lent is a very important season, and as St Paul says “Now, is the favorable time” and “a time of grace”, (2 Cor 5:20-6:2) a time of preparation for the greatest feast – Easter. Take the initiative to re-evaluate our lives over the course of the next 40 days. We have received ashes on our foreheads, not just to look Catholic, but to remind us that we are sinful and that we need Jesus to save us from sin. It is a sign acknowledging that we need a change. The ashes are an external sign but we must have the willingness to confess our sins, amend our lives and commit ourselves to not sin again. This moment is a moment of decision not to harden our hearts but to listen to the voice of the Lord.
When I woke up for morning Mass on Ash Wednesday, I was pondering about the one thing I could share with my congregation during the homily. I know all of us (if not most of us) are doing well in our spiritual lives. We do most of the devotional prayers and participate in the weekday and weekend Masses. However, is there any other opportunity to bring our spirituality to greater heights over the next few weeks? We should find a way to exhibit our faith and our discipleship by using these Lenten Observances – almsgiving, prayer and fasting (during his homily, Msgr James recommended that the three pillars of Lent be observed in this order – almsgiving, prayer and fasting).
By using this walking staff on our Lenten journey, we will arrive at Easter with renewed holiness. Almsgiving converts our mind and heart by sacrificing our selfish attachments, for the sake of our fellow brothers and sisters, which is utmost important. Doing good to others is a spiritual discipline that purifies us, increases our love and overcomes our selfishness without anyone getting hurt. Praying converts our hearts by sacrificing our selfish use of time, for the love of Christ. Fasting converts our mind and heart, body and spirit by sacrificing our selfish pleasures and enjoyments, for the strengthening of our spiritual maturity. The challenge for this season is to commit ourselves to grow in the knowledge of God, in serving, in giving hope to others and disciplining ourselves in words and deeds.
When we travel on the road, we may encounter a few humps and bumps along the way. It is same with our life journey – we will face rough and tough times ahead. This reminds me of a song’s lyrics, “It’s a long road to freedom, a winding steep and high, but when you walk in love with the wind on your wings and cover the earth with the songs you sing, the miles fly by.” So no matter how winding the road may be, no matter what the distractions are, or the mistakes and sins we encounter in this journey, just firmly fix your eyes upon Jesus and remain steadfast in all things that we do.
Let us have the spirit and courage to live this season of Lent faithfully and willingly, to enhance our spiritual life and build an intimate relationship with Jesus and with one another. Be glad in this season of Lent, which is a blessing for us, as we pursue the greater good. We shall die to sin and rise to new life!
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy