Lent is a time for looking beneath the surface. It reminds us to search out where our real commitment lies, to continue exploring, searching, pushing up against the horizons of our awareness. Lent calls us to put our preconceived notions of the truth and our prepackaged ideas of the good aside. It asks us to be disciplined enough to let go of our outmoded values and let the Spirit of God renew us. In the past we considered penance a matter of self-abnegation and denial of a particular enjoyment. Now, we can view it as a turning toward God to receive the insights for a renewal of the focus of our lives.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
Psalm 51: 14-17
Are there any areas in my life that need a new focus? In my prayer, I will turn to God with an open mind and a receptive heart.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
But if you seek your God, you will find God if you look with all your heart and with all your soul.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so
that times of refreshing may come from God.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
Another proof of the turning toward Christ will be found in a real change of life. If someone does not live differently from before, both at home and abroad, this repentance needs to be repented of and this conversion is a fiction.
All mature religion is somehow talking about finding your God self, your Christ self, your Buddha self, your Sufi dance. And when it happens, you know it was not a “change” after all, but a wondrous discovery and constant rediscovery of what was always true anyway.
We all know that life is lived in seasons. We go through periods of time when something in us must die so that something new can be born. We must grieve what has marred our past so that we can give birth to what is yet to come, the “awe” that is unfolding. Lent reminds us of these past seasons — that for every resurrection there is a death, and for every death a resurrection.
Joanne Fogarty, OSF