As I sat quietly before Mass at St. Barnabas yesterday morning, I shuddered as I realized it was indeed the 5th Sunday of Lent,
and that the celebrations of the Paschal Triduum and Easter were only 10 days away.
My mind ran rather guiltily over such questions as, “Where had the last 4 weeks of Lent gone?” and “Was I any better prepared for this journey to Jerusalem with Jesus?” and “How would I use the rest of Lent to renew my efforts to prepare for it all?”
Do thoughts like these ever make you wince?
Then Deacon Andy reminded me that I had volunteered to write this week’s “Monday Moment,” and my internal response was “YIKES!!! I’d better get at it.!”
So here goes….I offer you some thoughts of Father James Martin, S. J. which spoke to me as I read April’s “Give Us This Day” prayer guide.
He writes, “A few years ago I said in a Lenten homily that although we often act as if Jesus were to die all over again, Christ is already risen.
As a result, we need to balance our Lenten gloom with Easter joy. Afterward one parishioner said to him, “Father, that was not appropriate—it’s Lent!
Many Catholics believe that Lent should be always and everywhere dark. But the Church disagrees with this. One of the previous translations of a (Lenten) Mass prayer reads, “Father, each year,
You give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed.”
The emphasis on Lenten heaviness may reflect a misunderstanding of the aim of this liturgical season, which is a preparation for Easter.
Some of that preparation surely means repentance, which includes considering our sinful patters and attitudes. But the word which the gospels use for repentance is metanoia,
a change of mind and heart. And that doesn’t always mean something depressing. It could mean discovering a growing desire for prayer.
It could mean deciding to serve your community in a new way. I could mean choosing not to gossip. It could mean….
All of these Lenten “resolutions” could fill you with joy as you anticipate your “change of mind and heart,” and fill others with joy as well.
So, (for what remains of) this Lent, why not remember two things?
First, Christ is already risen and will help you through his Spirit. And second, the metanoia, to which God calls you will lead you, and others, to a more joyful life. Happy Lent!
---Father James Martin, S. J.
This Monday Minute was written by Br. Brice Byczynski '67.