As we begin the season of Lent we begin a period of reflection and renewal for our personal spiritual lives and hopefully those around us will be doing the same. It is a time when we undertake a certain amount of giving up things or doing things that well may be out of the ordinary such as getting up to go to an early Mass before going on to work or school or giving up this that or the other. But the season of Lent should be much more than doing things though all of the above mentioned things are important. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that a good Lent makes a wonderful Holy Week and Great Easter. I don’t mean that we should be like the man who, when asked why he was beating his head against a brick wall, said ‘it’s just so nice when I stop!’ There is more to Easter than the first bite of chocolate, sip of wine or gasp of cigarette on Easter Sunday after the Lenten fast. Lent is not all about making life ghastly and hard for ourselves for 40 days just to show we can do it, but it is actually about so much more. It is about Holy Week and Easter, and our focus has to be on the distant light of Christ at the Easter vigil that we should be looking towards right from the very start on Ash Wednesday and then as we travel the road of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.
Instead of giving up things I think that we need to take up things, things such as the scriptures, the word of god, or maybe the pope’s message for lent or the various forms of prayer and prayer books or whatever means we may have for bringing ourselves to God. The question to be asked and applied to you and I is this, does my prayer life deepen my relationship with God? Do my daily choices truly reflect my commitment to become Christ like in my life and dealings with others? What can I change to better embody the good news of Christ so others might follow? Lent offers the gift of 40 days to re-evaluate the way we are going and gives us a chance to empower ourselves to do better. Our penances and prayers are all about the resurrection; not just our Lord’s, but our own. They are all about allowing the grace of God to do its work in us, making us more like him, becoming less self-centered and more other person and God-centered so that we are more able to proclaim the kingdom of God by our words and deeds.