We have now entered the great season of lent. It is important for us to realize that our life is a journey, a movement towards God and the way to prepare ourselves to receive Him fully. During the season of Lent, the Church invites us to examine our lives, to repent of our sins and do penance. By means of fasting, penance and prayers, the faithful obtain the strength they need to overcome our sinful tendencies.
What makes each Lent different is our response. This special time can be an opportunity for real conversion of heart. Turning away from the trap of selfishness, turning towards Jesus who gives fullness of life, lasting into eternity, starting here and now.
At the beginning of chapter six of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to give to the poor, to pray and to fast. But He prefaces this call with a warning not to “practice these good deeds before people in order to be seen by them.” Three times He repeats “your Father, who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.” Lent is a time for that deeper meeting with God and the true conversion of our hearts. Only out of that conversion can come any good deeds worthy of the name.
A Different Approach to Fasting... Fasts have a tendency to be oriented toward things like giving up food or television. But there are many other creative ways we can welcome Jesus' healing touch. Here are suggestions we may want to consider. *Fast from anger and hatred. Give our family an extra dose of love each day. Give up anger - Be more patient. *Fast from judging others. Before making any judgments, recall how Jesus overlooks our faults. Give up gossiping - Control your tongue. *Fast from discouragement. Hold on to Jesus' promise that He has a perfect plan for our life. Give up discouragement - Be full of hope. *Fast from complaining. When we find ourselves about to complain, close our eyes and recall some of the little moments of joy Jesus has given us. Give up complaining - Focus on gratitude. *Fast from resentment or bitterness. Work on forgiving those who may have hurt us. Give up bitterness - Turn to forgiveness. *Fast from spending too much money. Try to reduce our spending by ten percent and give those savings to the poor.
Finally, make this Lent a time to rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Don’t wait till Holy Week, but find a time early in Lent to reflect on where you need forgiveness and healing and bring it to Confession. The priest will welcome you and help you. The prayer of Absolution is beautiful for the truly penitent to hear.
Wishing you Peace, Love, and Happiness during Lent and let’s pray for one another as we journey to Easter.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil