Monday, February 15, 2010

What is in store for your Lenten journey?

In a few short hours another Mardi Gras will come to a close. This season has been a celebration for the record books. For us here in New Orleans this Mardi Gras had more meaning and feeling than those past. But Who Dat or not, the Lenten season is upon us and time for us as Catholics to remember what Jesus sacrificed for our salvation.

Before we left school for our Mardi Gras break, I reminded the students we would be entering our spiritual desert. I could tell by the look on their faces that they thought this was going to be an interesting way to look at the Lenten season. After all Lent reminds us of the forty days and nights Jesus spent in the desert. It was during this time He fasted and prayed, but He also fought the temptations of the Devil. In the next several weeks I will be writing and contemplating on the different aspects of Lent that have significant meaning to us as Catholics. I hope to explore the concept of true fasting and abstinence, the importance of prayer in our lives, and why real sacrifice brings us closer to our goal of being 'Easter people'.

I asked the children to think about their sacrifices, to put it in the context of doing it out of love, but not as a hardship. The idea is to come out of the desert a changed person. A true metanoia, a person better for the love of Christ. Someone said that if our sacrifice is for us, we are sure to fail. But if our sacrifice is for the love of God, then it means so much more for us because we seek the good that God created for us.

We begin our lenten journey by receiving ashes on our forehead marked in the shape of a cross. The ashes remind us that we are human and will one day die and return to the dust from which we came, as Adam was formed in the image of God from the dust of creation. We are marked much like the mark we receive at Baptism, marked as belonging to God with the oil of Chrism. This mark should remind us we are God's and knowing this arms us for our journey into the lenten desert to fight all the temptations we will be faced with. The visible sign of the ashes points to the invisible reality of what our baptism signifies. We die to self and live in the new life of Christ. What we need to ask ourselves is what is it about us that needs to die, what is it about ourselves that needs to change so we can become what it is God created us to be. For some this is very hard to acknowledge, so in our Lenten journey can we be open to the plan God has in store for us, no matter how much pain there might be in that acknowledgment.

As you embark on your own journey, I will pray for one and all and ask you to pray for me as well. I also encourage you to embrace the darkness of the Lenten season because the Light of Christ is so much brighter and beautiful on Easter morning, but keep in mind the words of Christ to His disciples...Do not be afraid for I am with you always.

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