Lent – Time to Attend to One’s Spiritual Life
We have just begun our Lent by imposing ashes on our foreheads. In Old Testament times, putting on sackcloth and sprinkling ashes on the head were regarded predominantly as a symbol of grief. Today it stands for repentance and a reminder of our mortality. Lent, therefore, is a time kept aside to pay attention to our spiritual life. It is also a time to contemplate life beyond the horizons of earthly existence, for we know deep down in our hearts that we can find rest only in the presence of our creator, God.
Lent is a time to prepare for the graces of our salvation, given to us in the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. This is the Paschal Mystery, the mystery of our faith and salvation. The early church used this time as a final preparation to instruct the catechumens in faith. There is no better time to help catechumens to experience this mystery of their redemption than during Lent, as it is a time to prepare for a new life in faith.
The church gives us three classical methods to use during Lent. These three ways of the church are proven effective time and again.
Prayer is the first and the most important thing to do in Lent. Prayer brings us into the presence of God. It creates a relationship, a union with God who we know loves us unconditionally.
Fasting is a means to discipline our mind and body to focus totally on the love and mercy of God who gave us himself on the cross for our sake.
Almsgiving is the best outcome of prayer and fasting. One of the books of the early church (Didache), instructs the faithful regarding almsgiving, telling them, “You will thus deprive yourself of something so that your self-sacrifice may help somebody else to satisfy his/her hunger”.
Today’s liturgy presents Jesus to us as an example and model to fight every temptation we face. Paul in the second reading presents Jesus as a ‘New Man’, who counters every evil which the ‘First man’ (Adam) failed to do. Jesus brings back what was lost by Adam – eternal life.
Adam Temptation Sin Death
Jesus Temptation Rejection of Sin Eternal Life
The whole episode, Temptation of Jesus, is symbolic in nature. This temptation of Jesus was not for a single day but for His whole earthly life until He conquered it on the cross. The temptation from evil is still present for all people who live in Christ (Who are Baptized). But the one who is in Christ should not find it too difficult to face this temptation. The cross of Christ is the means to conquer every evil.
-Ranjan D’Sa OCD