Lent is a season of grace. The joy of the Risen Lord at Easter will depend on how we live out this holy season of Lent. God’s generosity has no limits, but we often fall short in giving God our whole hearts so that He can fill them with His love.
The following are five short suggestions on how we can live out Lent intensely, so that we can rejoice in the Risen Lord Jesus this year. Why not strive to live out this Lent as if it were to be the Last Lent in your lives.
Go deep in prayer this Lent; set aside more time to pray, a quiet place and a heart that is well-disposed to communicate with your Lord, God, and Savior.
On prayer, one suggestion that the Church constantly exhorts us to carry out: the meditation of the Word of God. Take the Readings for the day of the Mass and dig deep. Beg Our Lady who meditated upon the word of God in her heart to help you in this most noble pursuit. Beg also that the Word of God will serve to transform your heart and your life.
The first Sunday of Lent the devil tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread and Jesus responds: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Jesus expresses priorities here: first the Word of God and then the food for the stomach!
Lent is a time for conversion. The word in Greek is metanoia — which means a change of heart. As Catholic-Christians, the most efficacious means to attain true conversion of heart is through a direct encounter with Jesus the Healer. Jesus touches us and heals us in a special way in the Sacraments, but most especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Before going to Confession, why not read Luke 15, the Parables of God’s mercy. A friend of mine once called this the “Lost and found chapter”.
In this masterpiece of St. Luke (chapter 15), we encounter the Parable of the lost and found sheep, the lost and found coin, and finally the lost and found son, known most commonly as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It also might be named the Parable of the merciful Father. Make a good confession in Lent and beg the Lord Jesus for a new and clean heart!
3. Daily Mass
In the Our Father one of the petitions is “Give us this day our daily Bread”. This could mean three things:
- 1) physical bread and material sufficiency,
- 2) the Bread of the Word of God, and finally,
- 3) The Bread of Life which is the most Holy Eucharist.
Why not make the intention to attend daily Holy Mass all the days that are possible in the holy Season of Lent and receive Jesus the bread of life. Better yet, bring your family or even some friends to the Table of the Lord for the nourishment of their immortal souls. The greatest gesture we can do in this world is to receive Jesus into our hearts in Holy Communion. “As the deer yearns for the running streams, so my soul longs for you O Lord my God.” May we yearn, hunger and thirst for Jesus the Bread of Life!
4. Charity: Acts of Love and Service
Lent must be characterized by an attitude that translates itself into action through concrete gestures of service toward others. Indeed, if I receive Jesus into my heart in Holy Communion, I should have an ardent desire to bring Jesus to others, especially those who suffer most—the lonely, the poor, the elderly, the abandoned, the forlorn, the depressed, and dejected. Remember that these are the favorites of Jesus!
Needless to say, our love in service should start in our own home, amidst and among our family members. We do not want to fall into the Rip Van Winkle complex, in which we are the most loving and kind towards those outside the home, but are devils to those who actually live with us. Remember the saying: “Charity begins at home.”
5. Our Lady and Lent
In the Season of Lent in which we are preparing our hearts and minds to meditate and receive Jesus who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation, we should invite Our Lady to take an active role in it. Mary was chosen by God to play a key role in the economy of salvation. Our Lady has many beautiful titles: Our Lady of Mercy, Our Lady of Compassion, the Sorrowful Mother (Stabat Mater), and she has also been proclaimed by the Church in the official teachings (Lumen Gentium, chapter 8) as the Co-Redemptrix.
By this title “Co-Redemptrix” the Church affirms that there is only one Redeemer. However, in the plan and economy of salvation, God chose Our Lady to collaborate intimately in the work of our redemption and salvation. As Jesus hung on the cross, Our Lady stood firmly at the foot of the cross offering Jesus to the Father as the spotless Victim for the salvation of all of humanity. As we viewed in the film of Mel Gibson, the Passion of the Christ, Our Lady followed Jesus, step by step as he ascended Calvary; she was there when He was crucified; finally, she was there when he breathed forth His spirit into the hands of the eternal Father. May Our Lady walk with us and accompany us this whole Lenten Season, up to the celebration of Holy Week which culminates in the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, let us always rejoice in the season of Lent, which is a gift and blessing for us every Church year. However, let us truly enter in this year with true generosity of heart. Let us die to sin and rise to new life!