Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 21, 2005
Lenten opportunity comes every year
It is Lent once again. For Christians it's the time of year when we pay close attention to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It's that time when we strive to heighten our consciousness for doing good to others.
Once again we are reminded to make sacrifices, offer mortification and make amends for our sins. In short, it's that time of the year when we are encouraged to be true to who we are - the children of God.
We do this every year. If we didn't, our liturgical year would not be complete. But of course we all know that Lent does not come once a year to give us something to do.
When I was teaching catechism at St. James School in Vernon, B.C., one of my students asked, "Why do we repeat celebrating Lent every year?"
It is difficult to explain to eight-year-old children why we have to repeat things over and over. And sometimes even to adults, it would be quite a challenge to explain.
However, there could be various explanations why we have to repeat the different seasons in our faith life, the most logical of which is our imperfections.
We have to repeat things so we have the chance to do better.
Think about it. If we only celebrated Lent once in a lifetime, we would need to be careful in choosing which one to celebrate. We have to make sure that this event would point us in the direction of becoming truly God-loving and neighbour-loving.
If we only have one chance to reflect on our weaknesses, we have to make sure that this moment will clearly define for us who and how we are called to be children of God.
Thank God we have multiple chances to examine how we live our lives, how we treat each other and how we try to glorify God, by trying to treat each other as God's own image.
We repeat celebrating Lent in the hope that we will finally get it right. What we are trying to get right is our relationship with each other and our relationship with God.
We try to make our relationships right because they are not always that way. Relationships can sometimes turn irretrievably sour; they can also turn for the best. The problem is we do not usually follow a single path in pursuing right relationships with God and with our neighbours.
We sometimes take short cuts, which can eventually lead to our being sidetracked. We sometimes take the easy path, which can lead us to a different destination.
We should never take for granted the fact that we have many chances to make it right. If we can make it right sooner, why take another chance? Why wait for the last chance when every time we open our eyes in the morning, we are greeted with a new opportunity to make our relationships right?
Therefore, although we celebrate and observe Lent every year, it does not mean that it's the only time we should pray, give alms and fast. It should be a daily reality in our lives.
If these age-old practices of our faith have never been part of who we are, things can change. You can always begin doing them. Today.
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