Lent began on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18 this year, and ends on Holy Thursday, April 2. Catholics around the world observe this liturgical season of prayer, fasting, and giving alms. “Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each community and every believer. Above all it is a ‘time of grace’ ”(Pope Francis). Sister Lucianne Siers, OP (Grand Rapids) shares a reflection titled “Lent is the Church’s Springtime.” The Dominican Province of St. Martin de Porres offers daily reflections on its web site. The Dominican Sisters of Peace share a video reflection by Sister Margaret Ormond, OP. The Tacoma Dominicans offer a booklet of Lenten reflections by members of the Dominican Family.
Lent is the Church’s springtime
By Sister Lucianne Siers, OP (Grand Rapids)
“O Lord, I am longing for warm weather. I am quite tired of wearing boots, scarf, hat and my heavy coat. My car, which is usually dark grey, is nearly white with salt. Will spring ever come? It is below zero outside, and have you ever heard of 23 degrees below zero?”
As we continue these days of Lent, we do long for warmth, light, peace in our world and happiness in our hearts. We are not there yet, and our longings bring us to the days of the penitential season. The word “Lent” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word, lenctea, meaning spring, and the word lenctented, which literally means not only springtide, but also the word March, the month in which the majority of Lent falls.
Two elements that the Church calls us to are: recalling our baptism or preparing for it, and penance. From the earliest days of the tradition, it was a 40-day period preparing for Easter. Sundays are not included in counting 40 days of fasting. Practices have evolved over the centuries, from fasting 40 days to performing spiritual and corporeal works of mercy. The focus of Lent, however, remains the same: to repent of our sins, renew our faith, and prepare to celebrate the mysteries of salvation with joy.
Lent is a six-week journey, and we hopefully will find ourselves different than where we started. What are the attitudes or burdens that we do not need to carry? What do we need to take with us that needs more attention? Who are our companions on this journey? Are we supporting and encouraging them?
All the necessary elements are provided for us—the liturgies are prepared, the days will get longer, and the weather is promised to improve.
Let us move forward toward the great mysteries of our faith with enthusiasm and hope that God’s presence is full of compassion and love as we continue into this season with the promise that spring will emerge as we walk together preaching hope, peace and justice.