LENT, A TIME TO LET LOVE IN
That it’s suddenly Lent this week is almost as shocking to me as my recent move to California that sometimes causes me to wake up and do a double take of my west coast surroundings wondering, “How did I actually get here?” Time is fleeting and we are again automatically plunged into the wilderness of wildernesses that is Lent in t-minus two days.
While some are frantically trying to figure out what to give up, plotting a Fat Tuesday binge-fest or calculating how they will squeeze Ashes into their weekday routine, some have no clue that we are approaching the holiest season of the Christian calendar year. Lent won’t lead newscasts or be an A1 headline in the morning paper, so unless you are following the silly #AshTag feed on social media, how could anyone on the outskirts have any idea Lent is an invitation coming for them? In case you tripped on this blog, here’s my invite to you.
Even within the Church Lent can become somewhat trivialized with self-denial competitions on who tops whose promise to give up coffee, chocolate, social media, dating and a sharing of a barrage of meatless Friday meals that seem to pit neighbor against neighbor in a competition of M&M sacrificing Lenten perfection and dolled up practices in the season of radical transforming grace. Don’t fall victim to that.
Ash Wednesday (this coming Wednesday) marks the beginning of Lent leading to Easter and, though not a Holy Day of Obligation, thousands will begin their Lenten journey receiving Ashes as sign of penance and mortality before God and the world. This is a day of fasting and penance and self-reflection recognizing our littleness before the God who created us and the greatness a self-giving God who sent His only Son to die for us on a Cross setting us free from sin and slavery and into fellowship with Him forever.
The pillars of Lent include a disposition toward prayer, fasting and almsgiving. All of these are part of our 365 Christian walk, but become intensified during the liturgical season of Lent with a specific call to eradicate sin, commit to a renewed intentionality to walk with Jesus daily – not just a whimsy, compartmentalized Sunday expression of faith. We strive to get to a higher spiritual level than the last Lent. The radical force of Love that is found in Lent is calling us to a radical return – turning back – toward our Divine Lover, the healer of our souls.
Lent could actually seem like “inside ball” exclusively for the pious on the perpetual journey with Christ, but I pray that anyone who has been away from God and His Church for whatever reason – anyone who may have stumbled here, will know that Lent is for us all.
You may have slip-slided away after skipping Mass a few times and it became a habit or maybe you deliberately left because you don’t believe in “those rules” and yet you are still unhappy and aren’t sure why. Maybe you were hurt by someone in the Church or by a family member who may have been poor ambassador of the faith or rejected you and you said, “Bag THAT.” (or something stronger). You feel abandoned by God, and you want to abandon Him right back. Your spouse doesn’t believe, so it’s hard for you to keep your commitment and you don’t want the fight. You get nothing out of it and feel nothing, so you drifted away. Maybe you are afraid to come back because it might change your life or you are afraid of what people will think, you don’t know anyone else in the mix. You stopped coming because you are afraid He will ask too much of you. You have the weight of sin and you feel unworthy to receive this Love and think God could never forgive you. Or you feel called back, but just don’t know how to come back.
Lent is your calling card, your VIP invitation back to the Arms of Love. Lent is a fresh start. Lent is the water that washes away your past. Lent is the silence where you will hear Him. Lent is where you can lay your pain, your hurt, and your losses down. Lent is your point of re-entry to the Sacramental Life of the Church – the power source for your immortal soul. Lent is, the body of Christ, cheering you on and rejoicing when you return. Lent is forty days to reacquaint yourself with the Divine Lover of your soul. Lent is miraculous. Lent is beautiful. Lent is joyful. Lent is you, gold, going the fire to a new you at Easter. Lent is a new beginning. Lent is a free gift of grace. Lent wants you to let Love in. Lent is waiting for you.
“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”
Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.” And Pope Benedict XVI said, “Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life…”
This Ash Wednesday, give up, give in and come as you are and make an exchange. He is waiting with His arms wide open to dispense Grace unimaginable if you would meet Him in the Sacraments of Confession, and the Eucharist. Step into Love. Step into Lent. This Lent let Love in. As you let Love in, you will have a freedom you’ve never known, freedom to live your destiny powered by Him and with a mission.
Praying for you+