According to Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a six-week period of prayer, fasting and acts of charity prior to Easter. Although Ash Wednesday and Lent are typically considered Catholic observances, protestant participation in Lent’s spiritual disciplines is a growing trend.
The Church gives us the Lenten season as a way of deepening our relationship with God. Many of us have special devotions and spiritual practices that accompany our 40m – day journey. We often consider this as a time to “give something up” – to pray more and to make sacrifices. All of these and any practices always become for us the blessings of this holy season.
Most people get a yearly medical checkup. Lent is also a good time for a spiritual checkup to help deepen our relationship with God. In lent, we are given the opportunity to examine our prayer life. This is good to look at our prayer life and find ways that will help us get closer to God.
Lenten season in particular invites us to be more intentional about returning to God on every level of our being through practices of self – examination and repentance. Self – examination is the practice that facilitates such spiritual awakening to the presence of God as God really is and awakening to ourselves in light of God’s presence.
Pope Francis writes in his message for Lent 2017 “May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion.” To achieve this goal, we need to bring on the journey a resolve to pray more; a commitment to really deny ourselves and a desire to better practice charity. The Holy Father reminds us that “Lent is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the church: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.”
A spiritual pilgrimage during Lent contemplating on the life, suffering and death of our Lord can offer the benefits of renewal of life, rejuvenation of faith, and a re – awakening of spirit dulled by indifferences, preoccupation with the things of the world and neglect of “the one thing that is needed” (Luke 10:41-42).
In our Lenten spiritual journey, we follow Jesus from the wilderness of temptation to the hill of Golgotha. Between these two places we see him teaching the multitude on the mountain and in the synagogues on the Sabbath; we look upon his compassionate love as he heals the sick and forgives sinners; we behold his power over creation and the evil one in miracles and exorcisms; we witness as he eats and drinks with outcasts and celebrate at a wedding in Cana; and finally we behold the spectacle of him hanging in agony on a cross, dying for our sin, dying in our place.
What is your plan for your Lenten journey this year? What are the benefits of joining this Lenten Spiritual journey? Well, I believe that this six-week spiritual journey in Lent will help you to shape inner body, your spiritual personality. While reading the scripture and praying with an open heart, you will realize who you are in Jesus. If we don’t know the destination of our spiritual journey in this Lent, we will get lost and just wander around. The Lenten spiritual journey will help you to find your destination and you will rediscover the God – given joy to your life.
Dear brethren, on this Lenten journey let us be careful to accept Christ’s invitation to follow him more decisively and consistently, renewing the grace and commitments of our Baptism, to cast off the former person within us and put on Christ, in order to arrive at Easter renewed and able to say, with Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba
Katigondo National Seminary