Take a Lenten Journey
Many of us enter the season of Lent focused on what we are going to “give up”. As important as sacrifice is, however, Lent is a time for focusing on Baptism.
At the very start of Lent, on the First Sunday in fact, pastors and their parish communities send the catechumens to the Bishop. Based on the testimony of those preparing the catechumens and the parish communities who sent them, the bishop designates them as the “Elect”, those discerned ready for Baptism. They enter into the period of Purification and Enlightenment in the RCIA process and are front and center in the faith community.
As they prepare to celebrate the Easter Sacraments, we walk with them and examine how we have been living our baptismal commitment. Prayer, fasting and acts of charity (almsgiving) are the three essential practices of the season that can lead us to a renewal of what it means to be a follower of Christ.
In the first reading, the prophet Joel challenges us to “rend your hearts…and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” Issued to the entire community, it is a corporate summons to conversion: “Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the people, notify the congregation…” The whole community is reminded in a powerful way to turn away from sin and turn back to God who is gracious and merciful.
Although not part of the readings for Ash Wednesday, Psalm 119 is an appropriate Scripture passage to reflect on as Lent begins. It is all about instructions for living and highlights God’s Word as directing and guiding human life. Verse105 proclaims, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”
Reflecting on God’s Word illuminates the lifelong journey of faith and provides direction for all of us, the Elect and the Baptized. The Lenten journey, too, moves us all in the direction the Word of God calls us to follow. Stepping into the disciplines of Lent each day is walking a sure path with all the saints who have gone before us. The journey cannot be completed alone. The summons to the entire community to conversion is a corporate journey. We walk together, fasting, praying and caring for those most in need along the way.
When we accept the invitation to the journey, our feet and path, illumined by the Word of God, can lead us into participating more deeply in the Paschal Mystery we celebrate so profoundly during Holy Week. As we set out on this year’s Lenten journey, Christ is our Light who beckons, guides and assures us with the promise of His Resurrection.
What change/conversion do you want to see in your life?
How will you allow God’s Word “to be a lamp for your feet and a light for your path”?
What light do you bring to your family, parish, work place, community?
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Psalter. Divide Psalm 119 into small portions to read and reflect on during this week. To better appreciate this psalm, read the brief explanation at the end of the Psalm about how it is structured.
Ask in prayer to be open to the “instruction” (law, statute, commandment, precept, testimony, word, judgment, way, promise) you desire to receive from God.
Consider one way or a series of ways you, your family and/or your coworkers can be a light to and for each other and in your community. Consider doing one or two of the following actions this Lent:
Pointing out the good/positive qualities/aspects of people and situations
Refrain from complaining or gossiping about other people
Advocating for a social justice issue
Take a Lenten Journey
Follow us each week for further prayerful reflection.