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From mourning to gratitude


As a child I was under the impression that Lent was primarily a season of mourning.

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With the approach of Good Friday, on which day we recall that our Saviour was nailed to the Cross, I felt it was my failings and sinfulness that caused Jesus’ crucifixion. Already at seven years of age, I was weighed down by guilt and a feeling of unworthiness. It took an adult understanding of the faith to realise that I am worthy of life and love, not by anything that I have done, but by the sacrifice made by Christ on my behalf and on behalf of all humanity. The complement to our mourning is gratitude; much is expected from us on account of how much God has given us! We give of ourselves out of what we have received from the Lord.

The season of Lent stands as a profound period of spiritual significance for Catholics and many other Christians worldwide. The 40 days of observance symbolise Jesus’ time in the desert where he fasted, prayed to God and was tempted by the devil. This sacred season invites believers into a transformative journey of purification and enlightenment. It is a time for reflection, especially upon our baptismal promise to be the light of Christ for the world. The desert imagery recalls those times when we have betrayed this promise. Lent also constructively offers us an opportunity to examine our lives, acknowledge our shortcomings and seek reconciliation with God and neighbour. We are comforted and motivated by knowing that God is always there with arms wide open, aching to be once more in communion with us.

The season, however, is not about only looking inward. It also calls us to action: to engage in prayer, in acts of penance like fasting, and in offering charity to the poor. It is a time to grow in our understanding of the faith, of the Scriptures, and of the teachings of the Church. In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, this season corresponds with the period of purification and enlightenment – penance and the insight of faith that leads to baptism. As the already baptised, we engage in a similar process. When we recognise our failings and turn towards God, when we reflect on scripture and spend more time in prayer, when we are more aware of the suffering of others and stand in solidarity with those in need, we deepen our personal relationship with Christ into whom we were baptised.

Just as those who have been preparing for baptism are born again in water and the Spirit, so are we rejuvenated in our lives of discipleship through the spiritual disciplines of Lent that prepare us to renew our own baptismal promises at the Easter liturgies. The resurrection of Jesus Christ brings hope, redemption and the promise of new life. It is the ultimate affirmation of God’s love and grace, reminding us of the transformative power of faith and the triumph of light over darkness. Lent’s penance and mourning isn’t an end in itself but a preliminary and essential stage of the journey through purification to enlightenment, from mourning our sinfulness to gratitude for the gift of salvation. Lent is a profound and effective tool through which believers can deepen their faith, strengthen their commitment to Christ, and be ready to embrace the joy and hope of Easter. May this sacred season be for you, a time of profound reflection, inner healing and spiritual growth.

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