We will be entering into the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, 2 March 2022 and it will end before the start of Holy Week on Sunday, 10 April 2022. Lent is a time of grace, a time of reconciliation and a time of growth as St Paul says, “well, now is the favourable time” and “a time of salvation,” (2 Cor 6:2). According to the Holy Father Pope Francis, Lent “is a time of recovery, renewal and conversion, a time to receive the love of God and rediscover the direction of life.” Therefore, the season invites us to observe well through almsgiving, prayer and fasting, and to look into the areas of our lives which may require extra self-discipline in order to enhance our spiritual life.
What should I give up this Lenten season? Some of us may take this opportunity to go on a vegetarian diet during Lent, while some may want to abstain from movies, video games, surfing the internet, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or other things which may otherwise consume much of their time. Others may choose to skip a meal or two a day, in order to keep this season holy.
Whatever it may be, we should remember to find a way to exhibit our faith and our discipleship by practising these Lenten Observances – almsgiving, prayer and fasting. They are not meant to be undertaken simply to fulfil the so-called rules of Lent but instead, we need to pray from the heart; fast from the things that interfere in strengthening our relationship with God and our neighbour; and give alms with compassion to those in need. By doing these, we will make our Lenten journey a fruitful period of renewal.
Lent is a time to sacrifice the things that we enjoy and utilise our time wisely and fruitfully until Easter and thereafter. No matter how rough the road is, no matter the distractions, mistakes and sins we encounter throughout the journey - firmly gaze at Jesus and be determined in all things. Lent is a time for repentance, which means giving up sin in order to prepare to experience the Resurrection of Jesus. As we journey towards Easter, we set aside all our time by exercising self-discipline, self-examination, repentance and transformation. Certainly, with these preparations, our path will gradually become surer and clearer.
Lent is also a time to refocus our efforts and renew our commitment even though we may fail – “for though the upright falls seven times, he gets up again...” (Proverbs 24:16). We may fall many times but each time we rise and say to Jesus, “Yes, now I begin again.” Even failing in our commitments can help us grow in humility and provide insightful knowledge of our own spiritual existence. The practice of spiritual discipline helps us integrate our lives holistically.
This Lent, let us do our best to slowly root out sin and make a sincere effort to nourish our spiritual life so that Jesus is able to nurture and strengthen us. I am sure that when we engage in spiritual discipline, we will see our lives transformed.
Wishing you and your family a holy and blessed grace-filled Lenten journey towards a true conversion of mind and heart!