How to Have the Greatest Lent of Your Life: Week 5
The liturgical season of Lent gives all of us an opportunity to consider the deeper truths of our faith. Lent is a retreat into silence, into contemplation; it is a season of work and retreat for hearts needing to make space for God. Its quiet hush can be of great help in our lives as Catholics, especially as we may become otherwise easily distracted by the disquieted and busy nature of our world. During this fifth week of Lent, let us consider the love and mercy shown to us by our God in many ways: through His watchfulness, His forgiveness, His sacrifice on the cross and the ultimate promise of His Resurrection.
Thursday, March 30
"God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life."
In the words of Scripture, there are magnificent statements spoken so plainly and swiftly that it is almost easy to forget the true meaning of such sentences. John 3:16 is one of them. This well-known verse is one we must keep alive in our minds, and not let lose its meaning despite how often we may hear it. It is a wonderful reminder of the greatness of God’s gift to us: His own beloved Son. Let us think on the vastness of God’s love for us that allowed Christ’s death and resurrection to occur, as well as the resurrection of our own souls.
Friday, March 31
"He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him."
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
This Psalm causes us to think of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He paid the debt owed to God by mankind, freeing us from the shackles of original sin. God’s love and forgiveness is astounding, such that He is willing to take on our debts Himself. Let us here think of the great gift of salvation we have been given in Christ’s sacrifice, and remember the power of forgiveness in our own lives.
Saturday, April 1
"Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance."
Although the season of Lent is able to yield many wonderful gifts, it can be difficult to see the promise of such gifts in a time of fasting and sacrifice. As this Gospel states, however, the thing that yields an abundant harvest is perseverance. Wheat does not grow if neglected, and likewise, our spiritual lives do not either. We must continue to work, fast and sacrifice in a spirit of quiet contrition and peace, and in doing so, prepare our hearts for the resurrection of our Savior.
Sunday, April 2
"I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word. More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord."
R. With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.
The likening here between our souls and watchmen waiting for the light of the morning is a beautiful one. Especially in the season of Lent, we may often feel that we reside in a kind of darkness or gloom. Keeping this image in mind allows us to trust in the promise in the rising of the Son from the grave, flooding our lives with the light of His peace. Let us persevere in our work, and trust in His grace, as we await the joy of His resurrection.
Monday, April 3
"Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, 'Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.'"
In a time where we are given special reason to remember how greatly God has forgiven us, it is essential that we remember how to forgive our neighbor. It is easy to keep hold of uncharitable thoughts or resentments, but this verse gives us pause. It is important to recognize that we are all fallen members of Christ’s body, and that we ourselves must not be quick to judge others.
Tuesday, April 4
"Let this be written for the generation to come, and let his future creatures praise the LORD: 'The LORD looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, To hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die.'"
R. O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
This Psalm shows us the model of compassion that we ought to have in Christ. Just as He saw our suffering and chose to save us, so we should see the suffering of our neighbor and help them in any way we are able. We should make an especial effort to do this in light of the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. How greatly the world would improve if all were compassionate in those ways! Let us love one another as Christ loved us, and in that love, let us work selflessly to better the lives of others.
Wednesday, April 5
"Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, 'If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"
Truth encompasses everything we have discussed up to this point. All the elements that constitute our faith make up the one holy truth of Catholicism. In this we find God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and justice; we also find how to love our neighbor and live our lives according to God’s will. During this season of Lent, let us reflect on the ways in which this great truth impacts our lives, and let us grow in holiness as we persevere and prepare to witness Christ’s resurrection.