The liturgy has brought us through Advent, Christmas, and Ordinary Time before Lent, always guiding us to a fuller life in Christ. As we pondered words of wisdom for the formation of our mind and heart, we were brought to experience the power of the real presence of “God with us.” We are called to be “one holy people,” a “light to the nations.” Now the liturgy guides us through the Season of Lent, a period of forty days which represents our ascetical journey of life.
As we travel through Lent, the season is developed through the themes of the weeks. We discover ourselves in the “desert,” where Jesus comes, bringing his victory into our struggle with Satan’s temptations (1st Sunday). We are called to the “mountain” to glimpse our share in the glory of God (2nd Sunday). We turn to the “well” to listen to the Spirit in the depths of our heart (3rd Sunday). We are called to allow the Lord to heal our blindness (4th Sunday). We are given the promise of a risen life (5th Sunday). Then on Passion Sunday we see Jesus going into Jerusalem to offer his life for all mankind.
The Lenten Season is a pilgrimage of faith into our interior life, where we meet the Lord and open our hearts to his transforming love. Having been made aware of the universal affliction of sin in the past few weeks, in Lent we are given the practical asceticism of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and the grace to deal with the terrible hold sin has on our flesh.
When we give alms in love, we strip ourselves of our selfish attachment to physical possessions. In this way we open our hearts to receive the gifts of the Spirit. By the fasting of our senses, we empty ourselves more completely, leaving us with a sense of privation, a sort of death to the flesh, which allows us to be lifted up by the Spirit to God. When we open our hearts in prayer, the word of God cuts through them as a two-edged sword, separating our flesh and spirit. The Holy Spirit shows us how we are following, or not following, the will of the Lord in our lives. He gives us the strength to make the necessary changes in our lives.
Mary guides us on our journey. As we strive for purity of conscience, she walks with us, encouraging us to remain united with Jesus in carrying the crosses of our life, that we may be washed by the Blood of the Lamb and emerge as a new creation.
From the writings of Fr. Francis J. Marino, S.M.
Founder of the Anawim Community
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 16, no. 3. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.