It is hard to believe, but we are now (already) approaching the season of Lent. It is one of my favorite seasons. It is all about personal conversion, which we all need but don’t always necessarily like.
As a person who likes to exercise, I think of Lent as my “personal trainer.” My trainer guides my through physical exercises, such as weightlifting, stretching or aerobic/cardio-types of exercise. Like most of us, when he pushes me, I’m not really enjoying it at all (and that is the greatest understatement of 2017; the last workout I had, I nearly collapsed on the floor when I finished!) It’s hard and I don’t like it. But he continues to push, to test, and encourage all the while… and the end result is that I get stronger, more athletic, and most importantly, healthier.
Lent is like that too.
Often in our hectic, noisy and rushed world, it is difficult to pray or perhaps even to “slow down” enough to get into a prayerful disposition, not to mention strengthening our own personal disciplines and devotions in prayer. The season of Lent challenges us to go deeper with God in prayer. Fasting, too, is something none of us really like to do. If we did, it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Lent challenges us to fast, simply put, so that we can “give up” for God, so that we can more readily give more and more to him.
Almsgiving too, is a Lenten practice and challenge. Through it, in a more intentional way, Lent reminds us of our unity and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this world. All of these help us to be “trained” and get stronger, more faithful, as Catholic Christians. This season of penance is hence not a burden, but a gift. Christ shouldered the burden and heavy weight of the cross, and our sins, on the mountain of Calvary, “Good Friday,” to save us and get us to Easter Sunday and resurrection – new life!
As the “Ceremonial of Bishops” states, Lent “is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter.” So, let’s start “mountain climbing” my friends. There is nothing so exhilarating as reaching the top of a grand, high mountain you’ve hiked- reaching that final destination.
Easter – and Heaven – is that destination for us.