The Christian Faith centers around the Events of the Sufferings, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we refer to as the Paschal Mystery. In and through these Saving Events, we are offered the forgiveness of all our sins and the continuing opportunity to realize in all of our relationships the reconciliation that Christ has gained. In the life of the Church, the Lenten Season developed as a period of preparation to celebrate and to appropriate to ourselves the meaning of the Events of the Pascal Mystery.
Lent highlights both the communal and the personal dimensions of the Christian Faith. We belong to the Lord and to one another in the Lord as members of the Church. During Lent, the Church insists that we give outward expression to our common Faith in the following ways: on Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent and on Good Friday, those of us who are 14 and older are asked to abstain from eating meat. For those of us who are 18 and until we reach our 59th birthday, we are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday unless this would be a hardship to our health. On Fast Days, we eat only one full meal. The other two meals are lighter than they would otherwise be. On Fast Days, we do not eat between meals.
Because as members of the Church, each of us has a spiritual journey that is unique, the Lenten Season offers an opportunity and a challenge to prepare as individuals to celebrate the Events of the Pascal Mystery. In our lives, we each wrestle against that which makes it hard to receive all that the Lord would give to us and do in and through us. We are challenged and strengthened to confront that which would hinder the Lord’s working more effectively in our lives.
For example, maybe someone has really hurt us or let us down in a big way. As a result, we’ve been harboring a negative attitude toward that person. We might offer specific days during Lent on which to resolve to pray and fast for that individual. Perhaps, these disciplines, along with faithful celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, would strengthen us to be proactive in reaching out in loving concern to the one who has hurt us. With the Lord, all things are possible, even the ability to forgive another who has abused or wounded us.
May our observance of Lent this year serve to strengthen the life of our faith communities even as it enlivens our lives in the Lord as individual members of our parish communities.
Warmly yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson G. Beaver