By Maria G. Covarrubias
Lent is the 40-day journey of penance and examination of our lives. This liturgical season helps us to pay attention to our need for conversion of the heart and mind, strip ourselves from the baggage that we carry, and learn to trust and rely completely on God’s grace. From Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday, the Church keeps a time of penance and preparation for baptism.
The catechumens are now the “elect,” chosen for Christian initiation at the great Vigil of Easter, and those of us who are already baptized strive to recover and renew what has happened to us: in baptism, we have put on Christ.
Lent is an intentional time to consciously sharpen our senses, focus our minds and hearts on the love of God, that is the beginning of everything. Are we aware that because of our Baptism we are baptized into Christ’s death? This means death to sin and evil. In those waters of baptism, we begin a life in Christ.
What does this mean to you?
During Lent, the Church asks us to intentionally give ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to do fasting and almsgiving. The abstinence from meat that we all observe together on Fridays is a sign and reminder of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting for certain foods, but also fasting from certain attitudes and habits. For the Christian, fasting is ultimately about fasting from sin.
St. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “when I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man (adult), I put aside childish things.” What this means is that our faith and knowledge of our God must expand in the course of our lives. Once adults, we do not give up the same things we gave up as children during Lent. Our fasting must be a response to a more mature understanding of our faith through which we honestly evaluate our motives and actions; pleading the Holy Spirit to help us change attitudes that harm ourselves, our relationship with others and with God.
Isaiah 58: 6-8 takes us to a more profound sense of fasting. God through the prophet announces “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke, setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”
Circle the words or phrases in this article that speak to you. Choose to reflect on one or two, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you in choosing to fast from something that will help you put on Christ.
May God wrap you with his love! Enjoy Lent!
Maria G. Covarrubias is the Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.