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Understanding the Theology and Spirituality of Lent

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Fr. Bosco da Cunha, O.Carm

Prologue

As Catholics, we are familiar with the season of Lent, which we enter with the attitude of repentance.  Even though we maintain our attitude of repentance throughout the liturgical year, this attitude is significantly more important during Lent.   Why? What is the theology and spirituality of the Lent Season?  Why do we need to understand?  What do we have to do?  What kind of commitment do we have to make? In order to answer these questions, we really need to return to God

The Theology and Spirituality of Lent Season

The season of Lent is not an archaeological heritage from the practice of asceticism in the history of the Church of a certain era, but it is a season especially offered to enliven the role of the Church in the Easter Mystery of Christ,  “if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:17).  This is the center of the Lenten Season where Christ fixes the Church, His beloved bride (Eph 5:25-27).  Therefore the emphasis is more into the repentance and the sanctification in God, not only just practicing asceticism.

The effort to repent is a sign of our involvement to the experience of Christ who fasted in the desert for 40 days for us.  Walking in the season of Lent, the Church realizes that God Himself has given His grace for his beloved people who come to repent; therefore repentance has the value of a liturgical act, where Christ is working in sanctifying His Church. The Church is an Easter Community because of existence of the Sacrament of Baptism where people are invited to live their faith constantly through an ongoing repentance.

Ecclesiastically, Lent Season is an invitation for all God’s people to open themselves to God, the Savior, who wants to clean our sins and sanctify us.  Therefore, the act of repentance is not an individual form of action, rather it is a communal act that is performed in relation with others, because:

  • Sin means we are against God.
  • Sin has social consequences
  • The act of repentance is also the responsibility of the Church.
  • We have the responsibility to pray for sinners.

The means provided to express our attitude of repentance during the Lent Season are:

  • To be more faithful and diligent in listening and meditating upon the Word of God.
  • To spend more time praying.
  • To fast and abstain.
  • To intensify the works of charity and love.

Keeping with the time and the era, pastoral activities during Lent should be adjusted to help the faithful to make the most out of the season of repentance.  We must try our best to help the faithful to renew their baptism promise individually or communally in order to direct them into a more inveterate Easter celebration and to be more passionate in following Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life.  We need to acknowledge that as Christians our lives are guided by the dynamics of Easter.

Epiloque

As Lenten Season is the time to repent, to return to God, and to enter into an intimate and deep relationship with Christ, it is important for us to live its teaching and spirituality.  To repent means we conform ourselves with the will of God.  Therefore, we are willing to leave behind our tendency toward sin, focusing and relying our whole live only on Jesus Christ.  Lent makes us realize that we are only fragile and sinful human beings and we must rely on God’s strength.

As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven.

 



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