Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are gifted with another holy time of Lent. I know it’s not much of our favorite season, but one very important nonetheless. More often than not, Lent is associated as the time of penance and hardship instead of the time of preparation for the greatest feast of all year, Easter.
The other day in a homily I spoke about how the brides prepare themselves for their wedding. It’s amazing to see how excited they are, all the arrangements that are done for one of their most important day of their lives. Similarly, it could be said for a couple who are having their first child. They paint the baby’s room, decorate it with all sorts of beautiful things, they put the crib together, and as the moment of the birth of the baby approaches, they have the overnight bag ready for the big day, an emergency plan for when the water breaks. In sum, there is a lot of preparation that goes in place for both occasions. At the same time, even though there might be a lot of work, they are so excited for what will happen that they do it all with joy. The time of lent is similar to these examples. Actually, it is very similar as we are also called to be prepared for the wedding of the Lamb, when we will be with our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. In the second example, we are called to give birth to Christ inside of us, as St. Paul exhorts us, the new creation that God is doing within us. Therefore, I invite you to be thrilled during these upcoming 40 days.
But how can we get excited when we are whining about not eating meat on Friday and giving up things that we really enjoy? When we fast, abstain, and pray, the three pillars of the Lenten practices, we can either do something negative or we can turn it into something positive. For instance, instead of giving up watching Netflix, we can use those 50 minutes to read the bible, pray the rosary, or choose something religious to watch such as The Chosen, the life of saints, or something else in Formed.org (call the office for free subscription or check the bulletin next week). Another suggestion is instead of spending $5 on a Starbucks coffee, give it away in Charity, whether to someone in need, or to the Saint Vincent de Paul box at the entrance of the church.
St. Paul uses the example of athletes in his letter to the Corinthians. They renounce themselves of many types of food, spend a lot of time practicing, make innumerous sacrifices only to win a crown that parishes, or a medal that will be hung on a wall. Personally, I have sacrificed a lot of things to get medals and trophies that I don’t even have anymore. Now imagine how much more awesome it would be to prepare ourselves to go to heaven. To be closer to God each day in our prayers, to be able to live in a state of grace after a good deep confession, to be generous to others as God is with us. We are not giving up for nothing or just to feel better. We live Lent to be closer to God and to our neighbor. To help us to live the joys of heaven here on earth, and above all, to prepare ourselves to Easter, where we rise with Christ from death.
Finally, Lent lasts only for 40 days. We still have 325 other days of the year in which we are not fasting or abstaining. It is a short time, like our lives. It won’t last forever. Because of Covid maybe in these past Lents we were not able to live this season fully, so let’s take advantage of this year to live it to its fullness. If by chance you fall short or have a relapse, start all over again, just like the athletes! As we heard on Ash Wednesday St. Paul says, “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Father Steven Clemence