02 March 2009

The Holy Season of Lent

A lot of my friends do not like the season of Lent, but from a young age it has been a time I have looked forward to. It is not a season of "lack"; it is a season of preparation. The two days of fasting and the abstinence from meat on Fridays seems more symbolic than a hardship. But I value this time of preparation for Easter.

Easter has awed me since I was in kindergarten and not the secular celebration. I suppose at first it was the elaborate liturgy after seven weeks of more toned down Masses, but the significance of the Resurrection of Christ was slowly unfolding to me - as it still is. And as I got a little older I focused on how unworthy I was of this gracious mercy.

So when I choose my penance each Lent, I want it to be some what of a challenge. Not that I go to extremes or think that I can earn God's salvation. This year I choose to give up both eating at restaurants (esp. fast food) and all alcohol as my penance. This helps me focus on the needs of others and the convenience and abundance with which I am surrounded. This year on I want to try something new on Good Friday. I shall also be on an electronic fast. TV, cell phone, radio, computer, etc. And I thank God I am in a position where I can do it.

Penance should not be a looking back glumly to the sins of our past. We are asked (specifically at this time of year) to turn away from sin. Penance should help us look away from sin towards salvation wrought for us by Christ! My limited experience with Cistercians in the US and England seems to reflect this. Whilst there is a penitential character to their life, there is a pervading joy that is palpable.

Monday Morning I am traveling up to Our Lady of Spring Bank Abbey in Sparta, Wisconsin. I was up there last September when the weather was warm. It was my desire to see the Abbey when it was, shall we say, meteorologically challenged. I will also hopefully see a normal "work" week and a week of the observance of Lent.

I humbly ask for your prayers as I continue my journey. Thank you.

God bless you.

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