I like to think of Lent as a 40-day retreat that we enter into with the entire universal Church. It gives us an opportunity to re-examine our personal relationship with the Lord and to personally judge the spiritual state of our own life. The ashes of Ash Wednesday are a stark reminder of the shortness of life, the reality of death, the mortal nature of the human body, and the need for redemption. Salvation has come to the human race in the person of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died on the cross for the remission of our sins and to show us that death is the doorway through which we enter into eternity – eternal life or eternal damnation. Lent provides an opportunity for each one of us to contemplate the mystery of our redemption that we might more deeply appreciate the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily life, the forgiveness of sins that He has purchased for us by His suffering and death, and the eternal life that He has promised to those who are committed to Him.
Conceived in the womb of our mother, Our Father graciously infused our human body with a soul. Our body came from our parents, our soul came from Him. This soul is an eternal gift that exists and lives within the body – the body being the temple of the soul. We are to care for this soul – to nurture it with the sacraments, to keep it pure and upright in the sight of Almighty God. Our whole life is a ‘work in progress’ caring for this soul so that at the end of our earthly life, this soul may gain eternal life in the Kingdom. At the end of the world, the human body will unite again with this soul and this glorified body/soul will live in eternity – by God’s good grace with Him - aware that some will merit eternal damnation! Let us be conscious of this precious gift that we carry within!
I strongly recommend that you and your family participate in some of the parish activities and spiritual exercises that have been scheduled. Attend daily Mass, pray the Stations of the Cross, enjoy sung Vespers, engage in Gospel Reflections or Soup and Scripture. Above all, pass along to your children the importance of the Lenten Season by encouraging them in prayer, fasting and works of charity. I believe that it is extremely important that we give-up things that we like, even if they are little things. Giving up things strengthens our ‘will power.’ We increase the dominion or control over our own body and actions that serves to better resist temptations and to be more ready to choose the good. As well as ‘giving up’ something for Lent, do something positive; commit to a particular spiritual exercise or engage in specific acts of charity and kindness toward others. These things build character and self esteem.
May the Lord bless and protect each of you in the week ahead and throughout Lent.