A Reflection on Lent

Reflect

This past Wednesday we began the holy season of Lent: a season in which liturgical time seems to slow down to encourage us to set out on a path of preparation for Easter.

On the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reminds us that Jesus, after being baptized in the River Jordan and impelled by the Holy Spirit Who settled upon Him and revealed Him as the true Christ, withdrew for 40 days into the desert of Judea where He overcame the temptations of Satan (Mark 1:12-13). Following their Teacher and Lord, we also enter the Lenten desert in spirit in order to face with Him the “fight against the spirit of evil”.

The image of the desert is a very eloquent metaphor of the human condition. The Book of Exodus recounts the experience of the People of Israel who, after leaving Egypt, wandered through the desert of Sinai for 40 years before they reached the Promised Land.

During that long journey, the Jews experienced the full force and persistence of the tempter, who urged them to lose trust in the Lord and to turn back; at the same time, thanks to Moses’ mediation, they learned to listen to God’s voice calling them to become His holy people.

In meditating on this biblical passage, we understand that to live life to the full in freedom, we must overcome the test that this freedom entails, that is, temptation. Only if he is freed from the slavery of falsehood and sin, can a man, through the obedience of faith that opens him to the truth, find the full meaning of his life and attain peace, love, and joy.

For this very reason Lent is a favorable time for a diligent revision of life through recollection, prayer, and penance. The Spiritual Exercises, which will begin in our seminary, chapels, and parishes today in accordance with tradition and continue until the triumphant coming of the Resurrection, help our Fraternity to enter with greater awareness into this characteristic Lenten atmosphere.

Dear friends, we ask you to accompany us with your prayers, we assure you of ours, and you are remembered to the Lord at our altars, so that Lent may be for all Catholics an opportunity for conversion and a more courageous effort towards holiness. For this, let us invoke the Virgin Mary’s motherly intercession.

Act

Like many other religious communities, much of what we do for Lent is exemplified by what we do in our apostolates with frequent extra devotions, confessions, Lenten missions, and Stations of the Cross. However, the Extraordinary Form also provides us with a unique and beautiful stepping stone to Lent: the time of Septuagesima. Septuagesima marks the ninth Sunday before Easter and is a transition from Epiphany to the rigors of Lent. It enables us a few extra weeks to take stock of our spiritual lives and to prepare even better to make the most out of the holy season to come.

During Lent we encourage, by word and example, our apostolates to follow the example of Christ in the desert by viewing every day as an opportunity to fast and observe the ancient disciplines of complete abstinence from meat on all Fridays during Lent and partial abstinence from meat on other week days.

On all Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent, our Fraternity offers specials prayers for the Church Militant, the Pope, and the Bishops and, in addition to receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, we remember our fallen humanity and sinfulness on the first full week of Lent by marking the Ember Days.

Pray

Spare, O Lord,
Spare Thy people,
Do not be angry with us forever.

Let us turn back the angry avenger,
Let us lament before the Judge;
Let us cry aloud as suppliants,
Falling prostrate, let us all say:

By our evils we have offended
Thy clemency, O God.
Pour out upon us from above
Thine indulgence, unto remission.

Giving us an acceptable time,
Grant that by rivers of tears,
The victim, our heart, may be cleansed
That our joy may enkindle our charity.

Hear, O good Seasoner,
Our prayers through weeping,
In this most sacred fast,
Made firm by these forty days.

Spare, O Lord,
Spare Thy people,
Do not be angry with us forever.