The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has chosen the theme for this year's Lent: “Lenten Penance and Synodal Journey.” His Lenten message reflects on the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor, which can be read in three Gospel accounts - (Mt 17:1-13, Mk 9:2-13 and Lk 9:28-36).
He highlights that Lent is a journey that is “synodal” - climbing of Jesus with three of His disciples - Peter, John and James - to Mount Tabor. During this Lent, we will make a “synodal journey” in ascending “a high mountain” with Jesus to accompany us “to experience spiritual discipline.” Therefore, our Lenten journey is like going on an uphill mountain track which requires “effort, sacrifice and concentration.” As we climb the mountain, we should fix our eyes on our path, and once we reach the mountain top, we will be rewarded with beautiful panoramic views.
“Lent is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcome our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus and the way of the cross.” The Holy Father proposes two ways to reflect on experiencing the Lord’s passion and cross with faith, hope and love, as we arrive at Easter.
a) Listening - Lent is a favourable time - a time of grace – that we should “Listen to Him!” (Mt 17:5) as He speaks to us. Jesus speaks to us through the Scriptures. We take the initiative daily to read the Word of God, which occurs in the liturgy throughout this season and study the Bible through various sources. Jesus also speaks to us through our brothers and sisters, especially in the face of all kinds of challenges and in need of others.
b) Jesus affirmed his disciples, saying, “rise and do not be afraid”. We shouldn’t fear anything in facing the reality of the world and daily struggles and hardships. He realises that the journey of Lent and the Church’s ongoing Synod on Synodality may be arduous and challenging, but we should be focused on our goals and stay committed always. Our synodal journey towards Easter may help us “to understand better God’s will and our mission in the service of His Kingdom.”
May the Holy Spirit inspire and sustain us this Lent as we ascend with Jesus to experience His divine light and deeper faith.
(An Abstract from the Lenten Message of the Holy Father for the year 2023)
Lent is an opportunity to make our inner selves more beautiful by allowing Jesus Christ to rise and shine forth in us. This Lent, we shall focus on the theme chosen for our Lenten Retreat 2023 - “Arise and Shine” - which will take place from 3-5 March 2023. Thus far, we have 260 participants registered for this 3-day retreat. It will be conducted by Rev Frs Michael Payyapilly and Joseph Kannampally from the Vincentian Congregation (VC).
As we make the synodal journey this Lent, we take the initiative to listen to His voice and experience His light, as how the three disciples experienced “seeing and hearing” Him at Mount Tabor. We pray that Jesus will slowly and steadily transform and transfigure our minds, hearts and souls into a more beautiful and spiritual state of life. May the Glory of the Lord rise among us and shine in our lives.