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Is it Lent again already?

It’s almost Lent again? How can that be? I guess my grandmother was right after all – time certainly does seem to be moving more quickly than ever, and so, in just a few weeks, Ash Wednesday will be here once again, signaling the beginning of the season of Lent. While it may not be the favorite liturgical season of many, Lent is still a necessary and welcome visitor on a number of levels.

The season of Lent gets its name from an Old English word that means “to lengthen.”  Each year, this season returns just as the days begin to grow longer, signaling the approaching return of warmer weather and times for planting and growth. With the darker days of early winter now receding into the background, the additional light of these days leading to spring offers us the opportunity to focus more intently and intensely on those areas of our lives that need God’s grace to change. As we enter into this season of Lent we must do so with a willingness to step back and examine our lives in all their dimensions, searching for those habits and attitudes within that need correction, attention, or elimination. Christ, the light of the world, in whose presence we rejoiced at Christmas, is now an aid to self-examination, illuminating those dark corners of our hearts and minds, so that the darkness of sin and sadness may be cast out. Lent is hard work.

Lent is about allowing God to assist us to look deep within ourselves, finding that which must be cast out. Is there hardness of heart or lack of forgiveness within me? God, help me to cast it out. Do I lack charity or sensitivity to the needs of my sisters and brothers? God, help me to cast it out. Have I developed hurtful or spiteful ways of dealing with my loved ones, friends and co-workers? God, help me to change.

Lent affords us the opportunity to work hard in cooperation with God’s grace, allowing the good to grow within us as we once again seek to enhance our spiritual growth through the disciplines of prayer, fasting and charity. Lent offers us time to identify and cast out that which we can do without, encouraging its replacement by that with which we can do great good. Lent gives us the opportunity to allow the warmth and goodness of Christ, the light of the world, to shine in and through us. And so our journey in FAITH continues.