LENTEN MESSAGE: LENT A TIME OF NEW AWAKENING
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
The Season of Lent is here again, just like yesterday. This season of grace is also time of New awakening. It is a time for us Catholics and members of the Charismatics to re-evaluate our relationship with God and one another. A time of stock-taking repentance, reconciliation and conversion. As Cardinal Cantalamessa puts it, this time converting does indeed mean turning back a long way as far as our childhood! It points to reversing directions in a march. This is the conversion of those who have already entered the Kingdom, have believed in the gospel and have been serving Christ for a long time. It is our own conversion!
As Catholics and Charismatics, these six weeks of Lent is meant to be a time of severe penance as a way of purifying ourselves from our sinful habits and getting ready to celebrate the great feast of the passion, death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, with renewed commitment to follow Christ. The Church has left the Lenten practice of penance to the good will and generosity of individual Christians. As Charismatics what are our plans for this season of Lent this year?
The season of Lent should be a time for personal reflection on where we stand as Christians in accepting the Gospel challenges in thought, word and deed. It should be a time to assess our relationships with our family, friends, working colleagues, fellow Charismatic members and other people with whom we come in contact in our daily lives. As Catholics and Charismatics, we should examine whether we are able to make any positive contribution to other people’s lives and to eradicate the abuses which are part of our present-day society.
Let us see this year’s Lent as a time in which we are called to enter deep into the mystery of God’s love. To grasp this, we must be eternal like Him. For God loves us visibly and concretely in and through His Son whose message of love and new awakening we are called to live during this season of Lent. For us Charismatics, let us see this year’s Lent as a time meant to initiate us into true love for God through Christ. We should know that God’s love for us does not depend on what we do but on who He is.
The love of God for us is not based on our performances because no matter what we do, we cannot stop Him from loving us. There is simply nothing we can do to make God love us less. He loved us enough to have created us. Let us make this Lent a payback moment to the God who loves us. We can express a return love to God through a repentant heart and a heart that goes out to meet others in need especially the homeless in our society as Archbishop Cordileone declared this year Lent as “year for the homeless”.
This also forms part of the message of the Holy Father Pope Francis for this year’s Lenten message as he writes: “Love is a gift that gives meaning to our lives. It enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters. A small amount, if given with love, never ends, but becomes a source of life and happiness. Such was the case with the jar of meal and jug of oil of the widow of Zarephath, who offered a cake of bread to the prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:7-16); it was also the case with the loaves blessed, broken and given by Jesus to the disciples to distribute to the crowd (cf. Mk 6:30-44). Such is the case too with our almsgiving, whether small or large, when offered with joy and simplicity. Hence, to experience Lent with love means caring for those who suffer…(no.3).
Let us as Catholics and members of the Charismatic renewal use this season of Lent and new awakening for our spiritual growth and Christian maturity by
1) Participating in the Mass each day, or at least a few days in the week;
2) Setting aside some part of our day for personal prayer
3) Read some Scripture, alone or better still, with family or others;
4) Setting aside some money to help the poor and provide shelter for the homeless
5) Abstain from smoking or alcohol;
6) Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation this lent.
7) Participating in the “Stations of the Cross” on Fridays.
8) Visiting the sick and those in nursing homes (when such visiting is again allowed).