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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
February 26, 2006
Lent And The Journey to Conversion

     This Wednesday ushers in the season of Lent.  The 40 days (simply meaning a long period of time) is given to us by the Church in order to help us come back to the state of balance in our spiritual life.  Our schedules are all so harried that we often have difficulty keeping this balance in our lives.  When we lose our balance we feel anxious, insecure and frightened. It is time to rectify this situation before we lose our balance completely and keel over.  Receiving the ashes on Wednesday is the first step in regaining our balance.  At this time we are reminded that we will eventually return to the earth- a stark reminder that we are not here to stay. Let’s take a few minutes now to refresh our memory on the meaning of Lent and how it can help us regain balance in Lent.

    Originally, the season of Lent was that time when Catechumens were preparing themselves for Easter and the time of their Baptism.  Easter was the time chosen for adult Baptism because the feast of the Resurrection is the celebration of New Life.  Since “New Life”
is what happens to the newly Baptized the two celebration were joined.  During this time, the rest of the Church would join the catechumens in their preparation.  They would pray and celebrate the liturgy in accord with their friends and brothers and sisters to be.  Unfortunately, over the centuries, this custom became lost.  Lent became detached from the idea of Baptism and the faithful concentrated on Good Friday instead of Easter Sunday.  People concentrated on sacrifice for sacrifice sake with the intention of being in solidarity with the suffering Christ on the cross.  Although this was not a bad idea, the actual practice of the 40 days became lost.

    The Vatican Council has asked us to rethink Lent and the meaning of its practices.  Why do we pray, attend daily Mass more often, fast and abstain from meat and perhaps make some sacrifices that we truly don’t enjoy.  The purpose is Conversion.  We are asked to remember our own Baptisms and the commitment that is associated with it.  Although many of us were too young to commit ourselves to anything at the time of our Baptism, we are now at an age when we can and must make that commitment.  During the 40 days of Lent we are asked to examine our lives, and our offenses against God and neighbor.  We are asked to go to the “desert” and to face our “demons” as they are.  We are asked to look at ourselves in the mirror and see ourselves as we truly are, i.e., as sinners.  We are encouraged to take up our own cross and to die to ourselves.  We don’t make sacrifices because we feel bad for Jesus who died.  We make sacrifices because we need Conversion.  Like Jesus we need to die before we “rise again” in New Life.

    Like Jesus we must die before experiencing New Life.  There never would have been an Easter Resurrection if Jesus had not died.  He died to his own will and followed the will of the Father.  Like Jesus, we want to follow the will of Our Father.  We will only hear His voice if we spend more time with Him in prayer.  Baptism means that we are willing to follow Jesus no matter where it takes us.  We know that there are times when following Him is not easy.  We become fearful, anxious, doubtful and sometimes we run away.    Are we willing to recommit ourselves to Christ?  Will we be ready to re new our Baptismal promises on Easter Sunday or will we only wait for the others to voice their commitment?  The journey to Conversion involves a change of heart, then we will be well balanced.     

Lorette P. Nault