The Season of Lent is a great penitential pilgrimage of 40 days through the wilderness, accompanying the Lord on his journey of preparation for the ultimate journey to Calvary and Easter Day. The Cross itself is rightly called the ‘Throne of Mercy’ on which Jesus died for our sake and the gates of paradise were opened to us once more. We didn’t warrant or merit any grace given to us in this saving act, the gift is freely given by a loving, merciful Father who desires that we enter an eternal Communion of love with himself.
As such, Lent in this Jubilee Year of Mercy takes on an extra significance. In the Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis asks us to approach this Lent in a more rigorous way:
“The season of Lent during this Jubilee Year should be lived more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. (#17) The readings are from the Gospel of Luke; the ‘gospel of mercy’. On the Fourth Sunday the reading is the parable of the two sons, the third of the ‘lost and found parables’ (Lk 15:1-32). In these parables we find the core of the Gospel. (#9) “
As we enter this Lent and take up the traditional works of prayer, fasting and almsgiving let us also take on in a particular way the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that “remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit.”
Disciplines that bring us life
The fasting we do together on Fridays is a sign of the daily Lenten discipline: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the almsgiving is some effort to share this world equally—not only through money, but also through the sharing of our time and talents. The discipline of prayer strengthens our resolve and helps us to grow more like our loving Saviour to complete the journey of Lent in a faithful manner.
Renewing our Commitment to Christ
Lent is also a period of commitment. The baptised are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare for baptism through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. We are called not only to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of heart and mind as disciples of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptised into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
Fall upon the Sacrament of Mercy
During this season of Lent we are also encouraged to fall upon the Sacrament of Mercy, Confession, and make it a significant part of our spiritual lives during Lent. The Diocese will be sending Confession Guides to each parish and high school as an aid to this great Sacrament of Healing and love.
Why not begin this Lenten journey by reflecting upon the words of Pope Francis in his Message for Lent – https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/lent/documents/papa-francesco_20151004_messaggio-quaresima2016.html
May God Bless you all as we begin this Lenten journey together. May we experience the joy and peace of Easter more deeply in our hearts in 40 days time.