MORENO: Our Lenten journey
February 25, 2020
The season of Lent is a time for renewal, for conversion, and thus an ideal time to reflect on our relationship with God. Spending the Lenten season with such preparations will lead us to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection joyously at Easter time, “the Sunday of Sundays” of our liturgical life in the Church’s calendar.
Originally, the season of Lent focused on the intense preparation by catechumens to discern the very serious commitment that comes with becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ through the Sacraments of initiation.
In the times of the early Church, the persecutions leveled against Christians made the decision to be baptized and become a Christian carry the very possibility of death. The threat of death as a result of our becoming a Christian no longer applies to most of us. Nevertheless, after the reforms of Vatican II, the Church restored the practice of again making Lent the period of reflection, of purification and enlightenment in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
Given the original purpose of Lent, all of us can also participate in the spirit of this season, purifying our hearts and enlightening our minds to reach a close encounter with and know Jesus Christ so that we may follow Him.
We are called to know Jesus Christ, and not merely “know about him” (see RCIA no. 139). Furthermore, as Pope Francis reminds us: “Jesus said ‘follow Me,’ and not only ‘get to know Me.’” Catechists are particularly involved in this process, as St. John Paul II taught us in his apostolic exhortation Catechesi Tradendae: “The definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ.”
The Church, as a good mother and teacher, offers us a variety of opportunities to help us live the Paschal Mystery in Lent. Central among these opportunities is the celebration of Mass on Sundays. In this liturgical year, the Sunday readings of Lent will take us from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus with the temptations in the desert on the first Sunday of Lent, to the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus, demonstrating the power of the Son of Man and foreshadowing His own resurrection, and ours too.
Another great opportunity to live this time of conversion is to approach the throne of God’s mercy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance.
In this great Sacrament, we confess our sins and confess our faith in a God who loves us and calls us to communion with Him. Preparing ourselves, we can also invite others to this encounter with God.
We can invite others to Mass and the Sacraments, to pray the Way of the Cross, we can give children activities reminding them of the purpose of Lent, etc. Anything that reminds us God’s great love for us and the sending of His only son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His life on the cross for our salvation is a good way to prepare to turn to God this Lent so we may celebrate with joy the mystery of our salvation at Easter.
Juan Carlos Moreno is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.