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Ash Wednesday: The Time of Repentance Is Upon Us

Here is a mediation that I came across today in the Magnificat Lenten Companion.  It is written by Father Peter Cameron.  I feel that it best captures the state of mind that we all should have during Lent, it goes...

"The directions on the packet of flower seeds read: ' Seeds need darkness to germinate.'  It makes me think of myself.  I want to grow.  I want to become more than I am.  Yet, so often my self guided efforts leave me feeling empty, looking for something more.  The 'germination,' the better life that I seek must start in darkness.  Lent is that darkness. It is not something dreadful or depressing.  Rather, Lent takes us back to what really matters in life.  We return to the beginning.  You are here.  Why? Did you bring yourself about? Is your life a reward for some accomplishment? No.  You have been loved into existence by Someone.  Why would that someone want to bring you into being?  The answer to all the dissatisfaction and unrest we experience every day is to be found in the love that acted (and acts) to give you life.  In the darkness of Lent we meet again this Someone whose love whispers to us, 'It is necessary that you exist.' In that desire of the divine heart we discover our truest worth.  Which sets us free.  We belong to this One who constantly calls us in our darkness to come out of our darkness.  Lent is for leaving behind our distractions, our delusions.  We go into the darkness of Christ's tomb.  What happens there to him will happen, too, to us.

I know for myself that I have a tendency to view Lent as a time of self discipline and personal growth.  Usually the question that I begin with is, " What will I give up this year? or What more will I do? In the past I have given up such things as television, college homework (just kidding) coffee, music to name a few.  In the past I have also added such things as daily stations of the cross and adoration, fasting, reading the bible, spiritual works etc.  Even though these sacrifices and devotions are great in themselves. However, these activities don't matter at all if I we don't answer the fundamental question, "How is the Lord calling me to repentance this Lent?" This is the question that we must ask the Lord in silence, away from the noise and constant chaos that engulfs our life. The answer might be deceptively simple such as praying for your neighbor, praising the Lord, smiling more, etc.  Or the answer might be more involved such as a going for an extended retreat, physically helping the poor and the sick, daily hourly adoration, or frequent mass attendance. I assure you that if you take this silent time the Lord will reveal how he wants you to grow in conversion.

The danger like the editorial describes is that when we do not take the time to pray in silence our Lent will become just another activity to place on our to do list or calendar. Lent will then be relegated as a time of  personal growth but without the fundamental ingredient of conversion.  My prayer is that we all take the time this Lent to actively discern how the Lord wants us to grow in conversion.  We must become like seeds germinated in the darkness,  finally blossoming at the joyful resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday! But in order for this happen we need Lent first.

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