……from your Pastor’s Desk
“Where have all the Flowers gone?”
You’ve heard me say that Lent was not my favorite time of the year. I am, by nature, a jovial person. I love to laugh and smile, to joke and jest. So, as a lad in the 1950’s these did not go well with the Season as it was then observed. Through the years, try as I may, I just could not remain, sad, forlorn, overly introspective or depressed for six weeks. Eventually, as I grew older and did my own research and studies on it I discovered; Lent is not a time of depression – even though everything in the Liturgy is toned-down and simplified and we try to simplify our own lives too.
Lent is a time for returning to the heart. “Return to me with all your heart.” Anyone with a heart has also a sense of humor. Sometimes it’s the only way we can live with ourselves [or others]. It is painful work to strip away the ego’s defenses and projections, and we have to do it with good grace if it’s to stay done.
For many years now I wish people a ‘Happy Lent’, which does catch some people off guard. I suppose this greeting finds its origin in the Preface for the First Sunday of Lent which said ―each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the Pascal Mystery with mind and hearts renewed. However, the new translation of the mass, puts it this way: ―each year your faithful await the sacred paschal feasts with the joy of minds made pure”. Aha!
This makes things much clearer, it stresses that Lent is principally a time of purification. It is that, but also, the season is joyful, and that joy leads us to purify our lives. The joy that is referred to is more serenity than pleasure. It is the serenity that comes from having kept a good Lent, having borne the hardships of penance and fasting and having put quite a bit of extra effort into our prayer lives.
We need to be attentive to the fact that the liturgy (Mass) has various moods and specific emphases for each liturgical season. This is why music instrumentation is at a minimum and there are no flowers or plants in church. This is why we wear the solemn color purple. This is why we have devotions like the Holy Hour and Stations of the Cross offered for your edification. This is why we pray, fast, and give alms during this time more than other Seasons of the Church Year. The idea is to express the very different emotions of sorrow, praise and profound devotion – in harmony.
So Lent is a penitential season, but that does not make it a miserable season. There is joy in it but it is a sober joy, a restrained serenity that comes from being faithful to the traditional Lenten penances which are undertaken to unite ourselves to the sufferings of Jesus. It is a sorrowful (repentant) season but our sadness is moderated by the knowledge that Christ has won the victory and paid the price of our redemption.
Keep Lent well, and pardon my Lenten Smile!
Stations of The Cross
Every Friday of Lent at 6:30pm in Church
(March 15th only @ 3pm)
Parish Penance Service
Thursday April 4th at 7:00pm, three priests available.