Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Season of Lent

Today marks the start of the Lenten season, a season where every Catholic is encouraged to enter into deeper prayer, fast and alms giving. It is also a season which allows us to do some self-introspection to not only see what our weaknesses are but also what is the root of it is. So, it is safe to say that this season is considered to be a dry period, that is why we notice the leaves on the trees have all fallen off and the grass is parched because we are meant to embrace this period as one that is somber since Jesus himself did not have a comfortable time while he stayed in the desert for the 40-days and nights. You may also notice that the liturgical celebrations have toned down a bit, no singing of the Gloria or Alleluia and some songs have been omitted.
As Catholics, we are challenged on a daily basis to be more like Christ and if it means going into a time of seclusion and reflection then we should not hesitate since Jesus himself did not. Lent is a perfect opportunity for us to rectify our flaws with Christ so that when the glorious season of Easter has approached, we can definitely rise out of the tomb (figuratively speaking) with him. Let us examine three fundamental practices which we can exercise in this holy time and they are called the Pillars of Lent:
Prayer: There is no doubt that prayer must be the pivotal factor of our Christian lives. It is the conversation between ourselves and our Lord. Everyday, we must engage in deep prayer. Isn't it unfair that we give all attention to our parents, siblings, co-workers, friends and little or no attention is given to the one person that means the most to us. The Bible shows us that Jesus spent countless moments in prayer as well as his mother, who pondered everything in her heart and prayed silently.
Fasting: While in the dessert for 40 days and nights, Jesus deprived himself from the finest foods and lived on the simplest meals. There must something we absolutely love that we can sacrifice for Jesus to relate to what he endured. Traditionally, meat is something that Christians abstain from.
Alms-giving: The Lord loves a cheerful giver and Christmas should not only be a time where we practice kindness and generosity. Use this time to extend a helping hand to those who are in need.

Through these self-less acts, we become aware of our state of grace and are prompted to confess our sins. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his Annual Lenten Message, challenged the Catholic community to embrace a life of poverty, not in a literal sense, but that we should not crave the materials of the world.
"Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can so this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty," preached the Holy Father. In order for our relationship with Christ to be solid, we must be free ourselves from all worldly desires.  

Another point to mention is Temptation. No one cannot say that they are free from temptation because Jesus Christ was tempted in the dessert from the Prince of Darkness, so who are we? But, being as powerful and mighty as he is, Jesus endured it and was strong enough to overcome it by praying to the Father and that is what we have to do. In our moments of temptations, we too must pray to our heavenly father who hears our prayer. As Jesus reminds us in Matthew 28:20, "I am with you until the end of times". Temptation is a natural feeling, but how we deal with it is what counts and the right way is to call on our Lord to give us that strength to overcome it. The moment we give in to temptation, Satan wins and nothing from us should go to him.

May the Holy Spirit bless and strengthen us in this most solemn time and bring us closer to him through the selfless acts we do. As as our Holy Father pointed out, may we all aim to live a life that is materially poor but rich in virtue. God Bless us and Happy Lent!

Be poor in material things but rich in the Spirit of the Lord

--B.Durham, 2014

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