Lent is a forty-day period of some fasting and abstinence from Ash Wednesday, excluding Sundays, until Holy Saturday in remembrance of Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert before he began his public ministry. Those old enough and not yet 65 are required to not eat meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. You are free to add the other Fridays if you like.
The object is to look for what are more sinful things in our lives and work to not do those things and perform more acts of charity for others. This is a voluntary way of trying to be a more faithful follower of Jesus, bringing good to others. We want to adopt a "spring cleaning."
For more serious students of Jesus, Dynamic Catholics, we look for various ways we can get closer to Jesus during these 40 days and this year. The Sacrament of Penance is like the gesture of Jesus raising his hand toward the leper in Sunday’s gospel, taking away his sins and healing his leprosy.
We all have areas of sin to clean up in our lives as we journey toward heaven. In confession with repentant hearts we bring to Jesus through the person of the priest, our sins and a purpose of doing better. Father raises his hand in the gesture of Jesus healing the leper. The priest absolves us of our sins with the power of Jesus and gives us a penance and some degree of healing. Only a priest can do that in the name of Jesus and his church. Next to consecrating the bread and wine at Mass most days, this is the most powerful act a priest is given by Jesus. This was given the priest at his ordination. Awesome.
Many Catholics go for ashes on the foreheads and go back to work with pride that others can see their ashes, yet are not living the way Jesus wants us to live. Perhaps if we had the ashes hidden in our hair we could be more humble and give a better example by the way we live and work.
A nice point might be trying to get closer to Jesus during this Lent. We could cut back on evening TV time and read some gospel passages. We could go to Mass more and pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy or the rosary. We might also go visit Jesus in our parish church for a little while. We get divine "radiation" there with Christ’s love. I want to "drink in" more of his love these days because he loves us so much. We want to love him more and be his hands in the world.
Peace and all good!
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)