To fully understand the season of Lent we need to understand two underlying principles. First, as Christians, our life in Christ is far greater than we normally experience on a day to day basis. And secondly, we are created and redeemed by God for eternal life in heaven, this life on earth will end and with it, the things of earth. With these in mind, the Catholic Church sets before her sons and daughters the three traditional Lenten tasks of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.
- Prayer: to seek and allow ourselves to be found and dwell in the presence of the Lord.
- Fasting: to willingly set aside things which have too strong a grip on us.
- Almsgiving: to see others needs and attend to them.
In our current world, we have a tendency to believe that this life is the best and end of all human existence. For the Christian, nothing could be farther from the truth. Union with God for all eternity is the best and final end of all human existence. As good as this life is, it is a pale image of life with God. So, we seek that union now, through prayer and the contemplative life. We choose to practice “letting go”, through fasting and self-denial, so that we will, one day, be able to cling to God as our only good. And we practice charity through almsgiving, to grow in love, because “God is love and those who abide in love, abide in God and God in them”.
The Christian who practices these acts on a regular basis begins to see the world as God sees it – the place of redemption, hope and promise of a future good beyond our ability to comprehend. Our day to day life becomes a joy to live, even in times of trial; because we have ‘practiced dying’ and have allowed God to bring us new life. Lent is a season to bring about “new life”!