These first days of this holy season are a time to reflect as a community on the path our spiritual journey will take as we prepare to celebrate Easter. “Conversion” is a word we hear often during the season: conversion means “turning”, a U-turn, if our lives have seriously gone against the loving will of God, or a correcting the ship’s direction as we note deviations from love of God and neighbor caused by our selfish motives.
There are three especial practices recommended for Lent, which we can adopt, and add others of our own. The first is prayer. The direction to which we turn is God and His Word. There are many forms of prayer that may enrich our lives. The Stations of the Cross and the Rosary are very appropriate. We have the Sacraments: we could celebrate may be one more Mass a week other than Sunday Mass, we need not wait for the rush of Holy Week to make a special confession. We can prepare it throughout the Lent and make it peacefully and joyfully even before the Holy Week. Bible reading in private or in family can enrich family life enormously. Make use of the several programs available: Parish Lenten Mission, Diocesan Eucharistic Congress, Lenten Reflection Books, Best Lent Ever from Dynamic Catholic and many others.
The second important practice is penance. It need not stress physical discomfort, though some of it is surely helpful to counteract our tendency to make our life more and more comfortable. We have customary practices like less sugar, no smoking, no drinks, or no meat… Apart from practicing exterior penances, there are interior penances like befriending and forgiving people we do not like, shortening our television time and increasing our family conversation, between husband and wife, and with children and elders, (it may result in rich experiences).
Finally, almsgiving, itself a form of penance, it is but much more than that. It is an effort to grow in love with people we normally do not consider. Please share actively in Rice Bowl program. “Love your enemies” our Master commanded. At least, let us not condemn them. And make an effort to befriend marginal and deprived people.
May a personalized Lent lead us to a deep joy of the Easter Hallelujah!