Lent is upon us! Ash Wednesday and the beginning of this season always stirs up hope for me: Ash Wednesday is a small promise of spring’s scheduled arrival, which the later months of January and beginning of February can often trick me into forgetting. Spring is coming, and the strange bursts of warm weather remind us of that. Winter’s grasp is gradually slipping away. I’ve always loved that Lent corresponds with the change of seasons. From both the secular and the sacred spheres in our lives, the opportunities for activities multiply. We have prayer services and avenues for spiritual enrichment, but we also have midterms and sports and meetings-spring seems to jolt many parts of our life out of hibernation or perhaps into overdrive.
When I lived in Peru, all of the seasons flipped on me. Christmas celebrations marked the beginning of summer vacation for students and the glory of sunny days at the beach. Lent wasn’t called Lent-in Spanish, the season is known as “Cuaresma,” hearkening to the 40 days of preparation through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. That makes sense, because Lent can mean springtime, which the southern hemisphere definitely wasn’t experiencing during their penitential season.
Speaking Spanish, I did hear the words “lento” and “lenta” frequently. They mean, “Slow.”
When I returned the U.S., I was grateful to have a new way to think of Lent-being slow, deliberate, being intentional and thoughtful about how I engaged with God and with people. Deliberation helped me to move quickly … and more authentically to who God is calling me to be.
So as we continue this Lenten journey as individuals, families and a parish community, please lean into the myriad activities life throws our way. At the same time, take time to do so within the frame of God’s call for us to know and to show God’s boundless love for us all.
One simple way is to offer up our RCIA group in your prayers. You’ll find an article about how they are entering into the final phase of preparation prior to Easter. As you remember and hold them in prayer, reflect on your own call to continuing your journey more deeply into God’s love. As we enter into the month of March and come closer to Easter, I would also invite you to consider coming to the Easter Vigil, especially if you have never gone before; it is our community and liturgy at its best!
For married couples, I would also like to point out that we will be having an Afternoon of Prayer on Saturday, March 17th. You can find details in this issue of the Clarion, but, in short-take time to explore new ways of praying with your spouse and community!