Friday, February 19, 2010
Lent: a joyful season?
The Preface is the prayer at Mass that leads to our singing the Holy, Holy, Holy. There are Sunday, weekday, festal and seasonal Prefaces. Preface I for Lent includes these words:
Every year you give us this joyful season
when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery
with minds and hearts renewed.
You give us a spirit of loving reverence for you, our Father,
and of willing service to our neighbor...
Since we tend to image Lent tend as a somber, penitential time, it may seem incongruous to refer to Lent as a "joyful season." Aren't we supposed to refrain from joy until Easter?
Certainly Lent and its disciplines of prayer, fasting and works of mercy can be experienced as a time of spiritual and personal restraint, but Lent is also springtime for the life of faith - regardless of the side of the equator on which you live.
If Lent is a time for our "minds and hearts to be renewed" then it's also a season of new beginnings and opportunities, clean slates and life refreshed. And all of that is certainly cause for joy!
Note, too, how this Lenten Preface reminds us of what God does for us in the season. The Lord gives us a spirit of loving reverence for the Father of us all, inclining our hearts and minds to prayer and the needs of our spiritual lives. And there's more! The Lord gives us a spirit of willing service to our neighbor. That means that the Lord disposes our hearts to be generous in serving and helping our neighbor with our time, our talents, and our financial resources.
This spirit of reverence and service is a gift to us from God - ours for the taking. Of course, just as at any time of the year, it's easy for us to be too busy, too distracted, too self-concerned to even notice the gift of spiritual renewal the Lord hands out to us. And that's why the so-called "disciplines" of Lent (prayer, fasting, works of mercy) are so important.
What we "do for Lent" attunes us to the Lord's presence, inclines us to awareness of God's presence and disposes us to receive what the Lord offers us.
As we noted earlier: Watch out! God's gettin' busy!
And it's time for us to get busy about Lent!
Image source: NetGlimse
Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:01 AM