February 18, 2021
Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Josephine Bakhita Parish,
There are many things in life that call forth mixed feelings from ourselves. At the same time, we both want to do something and, yet are a bit reluctant to start out on that new road. For example, starting a different job or going to a new school or moving to a new town can call forth feelings of newness and even excitement, and, at the same time, there can be some fear and dread with the prospects of big changes.
It is common to experience the same feelings as we begin another Lenten Season. Especially this year. We all know that this is the time of year when we are asked to look closely at our lives for the purpose of renewing ourselves. When we think of Lent, we probably think of change---change for the better. Indeed, Lent is another word for springtime---a time of growth---a new life. And even though we usually want to change, we fear how difficult it may be.
Nature does not seem to have to worry about how to achieve this new growth. It just seems to happen. But with us it is quite different. We must be consciously involved in the change. It will not just happen on its own. Wouldn’t it be great if it could? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just sit back and wait for Lent to come each year, knowing that we would be automatically reset and renewed? But since that is not the case, how are we to go about this spiritual renewal of ourselves?
Well, there is a tried and tested method used for thousands of years. It is called prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three conditions of renewal are still as valid today as they were centuries ago.
Prayer leads to an awareness of where we need to change. This awareness then calls for putting away of negative elements in our behavior (we call that fasting). This in turn calls forth a new way of relating to others which is concretely expressed in almsgiving. Next week, in this column, I will explore and unpack the meaning and intention of these three Lenten elements of a formula for spiritual growth.
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Fr. George Couturier