Lenten Thoughts

Lenten Thoughts

Lenten Thoughts
Read Time: 6 minutes

At the beginning of Lent a question we often ask ourselves is:
How can I grow in my relationship with God this Lenten season?
To this end, we take a personal inventory of our strengths and weaknesses and ask God to help us overcome those weaknesses as part of our Lenten journey.  We are determined and confident that it is possible to refocus our lives on prayer, repentance, sacrifice and spiritual growth.

Now, as we arrive at the Fifth Sunday of Lent, with Holy Week on the horizon, we are not quite as confident as we were on Ash Wednesday.  We are tired, motivation is lacking.  The promises I made to myself around prayer, repentance and sacrifice do not seem so easily attainable.

I need to ask God to help me to keep going, to continue along my Lenten path.  I need to listen closely to what God is telling me.  God can speak to me through scripture, through the Church, through friends and family and through circumstances.  I need to listen carefully so that I can always be tuned to God’s   instructions.

God gave me encouragement this week through a dear friend.  We have been friends for over fifty years.  The memories we share involve our families, our children growing up together, lots of laughter as well as a few tears, much kindness, generosity and caring.  I recently had the great privilege of visiting my friend, who is suffering from a terminal illness and is in palliative care.  She is dying and yet she is uncomplaining, smiling, grateful for company.  This beautiful woman has spent her life helping, accepting and welcoming others and now accepting her approaching death with the same dignity and grace that she has shown all her life.  Visiting my friend has been a beautiful gift for me.  She has given me the motivation and inspiration to get back on my Lenten journey with renewed vigour for my Lenten resolutions.

This Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of Lent and is also recognized in our parish as Solidarity Sunday.  This is a day when we focus on the work of Development and Peace, a Catholic organization, based on Catholic Social Teaching, founded by our Catholic Bishops in 1967.  On this Solidarity Sunday we are invited to pray for justice and peace throughout the world.  We are also invited to donate to Share Lent to help Development and Peace with their work.  Development and Peace works in partnership with 100 local organizations in 36 countries around the world, helping them to defend their rights, act for peace and take charge of their own development.  This year, there are four symbols being used to help us understand this work.

The first symbol is a watering can which symbolizes the care of the garden, both physical and spiritual, representing the caring for plants as well as caring for communities.

The second symbol is a transparent glass containing salt, water and oil, allowed to settle into three layers, representing the contamination of land by decades of socially irresponsible oil extraction in Nigeria.

The third symbol is a notebook, with a picture of a gardening tool on the front.  This illustrates the willingness of young villagers to learn about sustainable, eco friendly agricultural products and put into practice what they have learned, through training offered by local Development and Peace partners.

The fourth symbol is milk, which reminds us of the work of small dairy farmers who sell some of their milk and process the rest into cheese, butter, etc. in order to diversify and increase their families’ incomes.

In addition to this, the fifth Sunday of Lent this year falls on March 17th, St Patrick’s Day, a cause for celebration for those of us of Irish descent.  Then on March 19th we will celebrate the feast of St Joseph, our Parish Patron Saint.

These celebrations are gifts that help to lighten our Lenten journey so that we can continue on the healing pathway of repentance and spiritual growth with renewed energy as we begin our preparations for Holy Week.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday where we read of the crowds celebrating and cheering and welcoming Jesus on His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the same crowds, who, less than a week later would be cheering for Jesus’ death.

Palm Sunday is followed four days later by the Triduum, which is the summit of our Church’s liturgical year, beginning on the evening of Holy Thursday and concluding on Easter Sunday.

But now, we are still struggling along on the fifth Sunday of Lent, trying hard to continue with all our Lenten resolutions.
Let us ask God to help us to continue to focus our lives on prayer and sacrifice and spiritual growth as we prepare for the great celebration of Easter.



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