J.M.J. "These forty days of Lent, O Lord, with You we fast and pray, Teach us to discipline our wills, and close by You to stay."
These words of a famous Lenten hymn speak volumes as we commence this six weeks-long liturgical season dedicated to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
How the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus wants to change us! He really desires that more than ever before, this Lent will witness our profound transformation from sin to virtue.
The path to Easter Sunday's empty tomb first passes through Calvary. There is no getting around the stark reality: if we are to rise with Christ, then we must die with Him. Our anger, pride, lust, greed, envy, gluttony and sloth must be nailed to the Savior's Cross before we will be fully liberated from Satan's snares.
Although penned before the first coming of Jesus, the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel wrote in accord with the future message of Mary's Son: "Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God. Return and live!"
Jesus shed His Precious Blood for us on Calvary. His Sacrifice was accepted by the Father through the Holy Spirit.
But in order for the selfless Offering of Christ to find its fullest effect in my life, I must open myself to the amazing grace of God and cooperate with all that the Lord wants to do with and in me. Again, I must die to myself so I can rise with Jesus.
God's plans for me and my life are astounding. But He does not compel me to yield to what He wishes. He invites my affirmative reply, knowing what is best for me.
The Lenten activities of prayer, penance and works of charity are meant to help me adore my Creator, imitate the suffering Jesus and develop my attitude of prompt surrender to all that the merciful God requires of me.
Forty days may not seem to be much time for a genuine conversion. But it is! Those who heed the gentle voice of the Good Shepherd summoning them to friendship with Himself will be radically altered, thereby showing forth His likeness to a greater degree. This is our ambition during Lent.
May Christ find our hearts to be His contented and welcoming home and our efforts to pray, fast and give alms in harmony with His designs for our happiness in this world and in the next.
Stabat Mater, ora pro nobis.