February 18, 2018

Last Wednesday we began our journey through Lent to the glory of Easter. On Ash Wednesday we were called to “remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” and to repent and believe in the Gospel.” These two admonitions assume that you and I are in need of conversion. The recognition of this need is at the heart of the first part of Lent.

We have this privileged time to be reminded that we come from the dust of the earth and that we will return there, and to honestly assess where we need to repent and to believe more deeply in the Good News. But that doesn’t mean that Lent is the time to beat ourselves up for being utter failures in the life of discipleship. We are called to recognize those ways that our discipleship is effective, and to see clearly those areas that need more work, more conversion, more turning toward the Lord.

This first part of Lent helps us to focus on our need for salvation, and the second part of Lent helps to remind us that the one in whom that saving love resides is Jesus Christ. He is the one who satisfies all our longings, who helps us to see clearly, and who brings us to new and everlasting life.

Over the course of these six and a half weeks the church calls us to employ three traditional practices that can assist us in our Lenten journey of conversion and turning toward the Lord Jesus as more committed disciples. The disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are time-tested methods that can help us to place God more at the center of our lives. God is always there - right at the center of all that we are and all that we do - Lent helps us to remember that again.

The first of our Lenten disciplines - prayer - is a call to be better stewards of our time. Everything we have is a gift from God. The first and most fundamental gift is the gift of time that the Lord gives us, from our first breath to our last. Like the gifts of talent and treasure that we have been given, we are called to make a return to the Lord in thanks of the gift of time.

The way we do that is to spend time with him in prayer. Perhaps our prayer has become a bit stale over these past months. Perhaps we have found ourselves just going through the motions, or have let prayer time dwindle to just about nothing. Lent is our time for a “reset” in our prayer life.

How that reset happens will be different for each of us. But it is good to keep in mind that the most important, and the foundational prayer in our lives, is our common worship at Sunday Eucharist. Lent is a good time to re-commit ourselves to not only be present for Sunday Mass every week, but to be prepared to worship, and to participate actively and consciously in the Mass. Flowing from the Sunday Mass is our personal time with the Lord in prayer during the week. And that personal time with the Lord leads us back to the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist.

The disciplines of fasting and almsgiving - of giving up the abundance of food we enjoy, and to be mindful of our responsibility to those who have less - these disciplines flow from this foundational discipline of prayer. May all of us be good stewards of our time this Lent and make a gift to the Lord of time in prayer. If we are faithful to that discipline, then we will arrive at Easter with hearts made new.

Have a Blessed Lent!
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni