Don’t just give up food, think spiritually this Lent

bozant    Oftentimes, the season of Lent is thought of as merely a period of fasting that culminates in the remembrance of Jesus’ death and the celebration of his resurrection. However, there is an important element that frequently is forgotten during the season of Lent: baptism.
    At its root, the Lenten season is a period of preparing and anticipating baptism and the renewal of the baptismal vows.
    During the Lenten season, catechumens will prepare themselves for an initiation into the Catholic faith, and as they prepare themselves, we – the members of the church – accompany them on their journey as we prepare ourselves for the renewal of our baptismal vows, in which we reject Satan and affirm our belief in God and in the Catholic Church.
    Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season, reminding us of repentance and of our mortality, as the priest tells us, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” We are also reminded of the last judgment, when we will stand before God and be judged according to our actions and our ability to live the faith.
    In this liturgy alone, the resonance of death and resurrection can be linked to the baptismal motif that begins us on our Lenten journey. We are visibly marked by the sign of our journey, recognizing within ourselves the need for deeper conversion during this season of renewal.
Leave sin behind
    Throughout our 40-day fast, we are reminded that we must turn our lives completely to God and live our lives according to his will. In this way, we are called to give up sin. Our fasting is symbolic of leaving our sinful natures behind us in order to live a life of renewal and faith.
    We are also called to scrutinize our lives and pray for the strength to recall ourselves to God’s presence, to ultimately turn our lives over to him and overcome our sins.
    “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” are the words which we heard on Ash Wednesday as we received the visible sign of ourselves as Catholics embarking on a journey throughout the 40 days of Lent. However, this remembrance of our mortality recalls each individual to remember the eternity that we will all, one day, have to face.
    In our society, the issue of mortality never seems to surface in thought. We are a present-minded society and, in times of economic strife, it is often difficult to look ahead and see any hope for a brighter future.
    However, Lent is a reminder of renewal – it is a reminder that Jesus has conquered mortality for our sake. This season, remember that life is short; we never know when our last moment will be. The church calls us to give up certain things for our mortification. Instead of some food that we find that we cannot live without, perhaps we can engage in spiritual works of mercy. This season, make a plan for continual prayer with family or attending daily Mass.
    During this Lenten season, we must keep in mind the ever-evolving society in which we live, and pray not only for the renewal and conversion of our society, but also for the strength to stand up for all that we believe in, despite the seemingly outright persecution upon our morals.
    Heather Bozant can be reached at hbozant@clarionherald.org.

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