Forty Days and Forty Thoughts on the Beauty and Mystery of Lent

Part 1 of 2 of the Mysteries of Lent

My son will be confirmed in April. In writing a letter to the bishop to apply for this sacrament he wrote, “I’m proud to be Catholic because the Church speaks up for Truth. We Catholics know why we were made. God made us to know Him, love Him and serve Him. It’s reassuring to understand this.” What he wrote reminded me that Lent is the season to re-align ourselves with Truth…we were made for a purpose…to love in the way Jesus loved.

Here are forty thoughts for the forty days when we contemplate the meaning of love. (Twenty thoughts for February and 20 more to come in March.)

  1. On Ash Wednesday, we are “marked for Christ.” We belong to Him. This is a wake-up call.
  2. Most of the year, we go “one step forward and two steps backward” in our spiritual growth. It takes constant attention to continue forward. Now is the time.
  3. What about making a special place for prayer? This can be a visual reminder of what we need to be doing.
  4. Sometimes Lent seems gloomy. It comes at a time when winter is hanging on. The beauty of Lent is in the challenge to “walk with Christ.” Forty days for Him…that’s the least we can offer!
  5. We all love the discipline and routine of going to a gym, an aerobics class or a regular exercise routine. We know it makes us feel better. Lent is a discipline, routine and “feel better” system for the soul!
  6. Lent is a good time to take back control of the tongue! It’s easy to spout off or share stories about others. But it’s better to hold back, wait and consider the consequences of any speech.
  7. We are called to be saints. There are no excuses for not putting in the effort.
  8. When our teenagers whine about “what am I gonna do with my life?” it’s good to remind them… “God made you for a purpose….you are called to be a saint.”
  9. Light comes only after darkness. In the difficulties of this time in our lives, there is hope. There is light. It shines most brightly at Easter.
  10. When I was a kid, I spent every evening during Lent drawing religious pictures. It’s time to return to the wisdom of childhood.
  11. All of history is hinged on the few days of Christ’s passion and death. That’s the point of this forty days. We return our hearts to that pivotal event.
  12. After Jesus spent his preparation time of forty days in the desert, the devil’s first temptation was food. “Eat. Eat!”  It may be a struggle to control what we eat but therein lies the reason for it. We need to “just say no” to the devil’s many temptations.
  13. Candles are significant during Lent. A candle lights a small area. God gives us enough light for this moment. For the moments ahead we are to trust Him.
  14. Jesus chose to suffer and die out of love for you, love for me. “I scarce can take it in” are the words in the song “How Great Thou Art.”
  15. Post pictures of Jesus around the house. We remember how He loves us.
  16. Offer up anything that’s difficult. Imagine it is united with the sufferings of Jesus. Maybe out small sacrifices go across the centuries and make the pain He suffered just a little bit easier to bear.
  17. We are going to have a new Pope soon. Lent is a time to offer up special prayers for the cardinals who will make this momentous decision.
  18. In all our communities there are people who are suffering from loneliness, divorce, illness, hunger and homelessness. Feel for a moment what those things are like. Feel the hurt. Pray for all of those who are suffering.
  19. Read the story of a modern day hero. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was captured by the Nazis for hiding Jews and speaking out against oppression. In Auschwitz, another man was scheduled to be killed. St. Maximilian said, “I’ll take his place.” He offered up his life for a stranger.
  20.  Every day is a new opportunity to offer up our lives in love for Jesus.