- Lent – Responding to the call of Lent with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Why I love Ash Wednesday and Lent
Yesterday I woke with a strong desire to attend the Ash Wednesday mass and receive the mark of the ashes on my forehead. The ashes are, at their most basic level, a reminder as well as a call. They open up a 40-day moment for renewal. We are reminded that we are mortal, and we also acknowledge our need for repentance. We are not perfect; we are not divine. In essence, we humble ourselves and reiterate that we are pilgrims on a journey. It is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is a wonderful time of year that offers us the opportunity to slow down, reflect, repent, and renew.
Lent invites us to renew our faith that makes us pilgrims bound for the Kingdom or Reign of God. Our model and guide is Jesus Christ ~ Father Charlie Banks, O.M.J..
Think of the Lenten pilgrim’s journey as a spiral. Each year we take a moment in time to reflect upon our journey and to make the necessary changes needed to continue on our upward and forward journey to the Kingdom of God.
As we review our past actions, we repent through the penitential rite of confession, shed the sin, and move forward. Through penance with fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we tackle the after-effects of our sins. As we do this, we grow lighter and spiritually move upward and forward toward our goal.
We are, after all, called to holiness. Lent is a call to holiness.
To embrace Lent is to embrace God
To practice Lent and give yourself fully to the season requires will. Your will. To fully embrace Lent, you have to offer yourself up in humility to the love of God through Jesus Christ because the focus of Lent is on Jesus, his passion, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. These are the mysteries we ponder in our hearts as we walk the 40-day journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
Lent empowers you to establish holy habits
Lent is a 40-day period. Studies have shown that habits are sown in a season that spans 28 days to about six weeks. This makes Lent the perfect time to establish new holy habits or renew those who have fallen by the wayside. Is there some practice that you’ve let go? Maybe you’re not praying anymore. Perhaps you’ve fallen into the habit of missing mass. Have you forgotten about the saints and all the wonderful help they have to offer if we but ask? What is it that is nagging you despite your best efforts at ignoring that very thing? Maybe it’s time to pick up that practice once again.
What about adding something new to your spiritual or daily life? Is there a devotion that you’ve thought about but never tried? Do you make a practice of listening to God? Have you ever considered a Holy Hour? Maybe you’ve walked around the idea of adding adoration time to your week but have yet to incorporate it into your life? When was the last time you went to confession? Lent is the perfect time to begin anew.
The holy habit of spiritual reading and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
I recently began the year-long reading of St. Augustine’s City of God. I’m in the Facebook group with 1300+ other readers. I’m even ahead of the daily readings.You would think maybe that would be enough to tackle this year but apparently not. The night before Ash Wednesday the idea of reading Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s autobiographical work Story of a Soul reappeared. No, it is not the first time The Little Flower of Jesus has dropped a hint that perhaps the book would be good for me to read.
I don’t know why I’ve ignored the suggestions. It’s certainly not because I dislike reading. I love reading. It’s not because I don’t like to read spiritual books. I do. So what is it about this true story of this popular saint that has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions during the last century? She was only 24 years old when she died, yet her autobiography is considered a classic work. In all honesty, I don’t know but I intend to find out for I will begin reading The Story of a Soul today.
Join me in reading The Story of a Soul
If you’re intrigued, do join me and return for more of my Lenten reflections. If you’ve read the book, do share your own reflections on the work. If Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, The Little Flower of Jesus, is dear to you, tell me why. I’ll be writing more about my encounter with the Little Flower, so I hope you’ll return. I also encourage you to share your Lenten reflections below.