It’s hard for me to believe that Lent is already here. It has been said that more people pass through churches on Ash Wednesday than any other day of the year, including Christmas and Easter. We will have our heads marked with ashes and everyone will know we are Christians as we walk the streets.
I have lots of childhood memories of Lent. The question was always what will I give up during Lent. For many years, I gave up candy. In my family, we thought Sundays were not part of Lent, so no candy for six days meant gorging on the seventh. As an adult the question I ask is not what will I give up rather what I will do for Lent.
Lent is the time we prepare for Easter by remembering Jesus Christ’s wandering in the desert for 40 days. The Church calls for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent. Lent invites us to spend time with God in prayer. To turn towards God and recognize God’s presence and open our hearts to receive God’s love and mercy. Lent offers us the opportunity to allow Jesus to draw near and to spend time with him. What does Jesus want to say to me this Lent? What do I want to talk to Jesus about? Fasting is not simply abstinence from meat on Fridays during Lent. Fasting places us in solidarity with those who hunger every day. Fasting allows us to become more compassionate to those without adequate food and water. The horrific images coming from Gaza, Ukraine, and many other places remind us that we must continue to hunger and thirst with Jesus for a peaceful and just world. Almsgiving is sharing our time, talent, and treasure with others. Almsgiving is an act of love.
The miracle of the Cristo Rey movement is because of the generosity and love of so many. Being part of the Cristo Rey movement for the past 30 years has been a humbling experience of gratitude. I am awed by the generosity and goodness of others. Our students, families, faculty and staff, corporate sponsors, donors, etc. are sure signs of God’s love in action.
Lent is an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God. A time to recognize our brokenness and the brokenness of our world. A season to reflect on who we are and where we are going in our lives. As children of God, we in the Cristo Rey movement walk with Christ lending a hand to his mission of bringing more love and life into our world. May Lent be a time of prayer, fasting, and sharing our blessings with others. Have a blessed and happy Lent.
- Fr. Jim Gartland, S.J., Chief Mission Officer