By Cass Hooker, Director of Evangelization
Our observance of Lent takes us on the journey to our greatest celebration in our liturgical year, Easter. We are called by the Church to a spirit of repentance and reflection about our Baptism and the promises we made or were made for us at our Baptism. Our catechumen (those journeying to Baptism at the Easter Vigil) are also continuing their steps in the midst of this parish toward the paschal mystery. Lent may be described as a season of endings and beginnings as we celebrate the mystery of the Cross on which Jesus died and the wonder of beginnings through resurrection and eternal life. Author, Matthew Kelly asks,” Do you need a fresh start?” Kelly’s prompt to us, “Jesus is the ultimate new beginning”.
All of us have, at one time or another, named certain things as our priorities. From time to time, when we become aware of our not doing something that is really important, we say, "I have to make that a priority." Lent is an important time to do a top-to-bottom review of what we value and what we actually do in our everyday lives. Whenever we do this, we always discover that something needs re-aligning. We discover that there are values we hold, commitments we've made, growth we desire, that simply don't make it on the list of our "actual priorities" - that is, the things that take the "first place" in our lives. For example, I might say, "My family is my first priority!" My family might say otherwise. I might say, "My faith is among my top priorities." But, an honest self-examination may show otherwise. I may say, I hear the words of Jesus that we will be judged really on only one thing: how we care for "the least" of his sister and brothers. I may only occasionally even notice that feeding, clothing, caring for or defending the marginal never makes it to my priority list.
A thorough review of what is most important to us, and what seems to be important to us by virtue of what we actually do, is prime Lenten activity. If what we are hoping to do during Lent is to grow in personal freedom, based upon our growing sense of God's love for us, and our clearer vision of who we are, and our deepening desire to be more closely aligned with the heart of Jesus, then we will want to do this personal review very carefully. How else might we ever hope to get to a heroic, courageous, self-sacrificing service of others? What chance will care of the poor ever have of making it into our priorities? How will we ever be able to break old self-defeating habits and secure the establishment of new ones that help us be who we want to actually be?
So when we may be considering what we will do for Lent; or considering what we may want to give up during these forty days, let’s look deeply into our priorities and see with Lenten eyes and eyes on Jesus where and how we spend our time and our treasure. What better time to realign our priorities than this Lent.