How do we approach the season of Lent? I imagine there will be numerous answers to this question because our experiences, circumstances and attitudes are mixed and varied. Do we look forward to it or do we see it as a kind of endurance test, bracing ourselves for a miserable ride?

A lot does depend on our attitude. Whether we give something up or do something extra, or perhaps both, we need to do it positively and wholeheartedly. If we don’t there’s really no point in doing it at all, and I speak as one, who in the past, has not always given it my best shot.

I think all of us need to look upon Lent as a gift from God, an opportunity, a privileged time when we can draw closer to our Saviour and in doing so, become better and holier people.

I think a passage of scripture that would help us understand how we can do this is the encounter between Martha and Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). Martha complains to him that she has been left to do all the work without any help from her sister Mary who sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him. Jesus says in response,

“Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from.”

What is this better part? What is it that Mary is doing? Well, she is concentrating on Jesus and what he is saying. She is totally focussed on the person and on the moment; she realises the value of it and knows she cannot afford to waste it. Jesus of course knew how crucial it was and warned that no one should attempt to take it from her.

I ask each and every one of you to do as Martha did and spend time in the presence of the Lord. That means being away from people, noise, computers, televisions, mobiles, radios and work. There are other things we need to get rid of too. Because our minds are full of images, thoughts and ideas, we need to try to seek an inner silence. This will enable us to better appreciate the presence of God. There are ways to help us get the most from this quiet time: one way is to become more aware of our breathing and to reflect on how God gives us life; or perhaps a silent repetition of simple sentences like, “I love you Lord” or “Come Lord Jesus.”

This coming Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tells us that ‘Now is the favourable time, this is the day of salvation’. So, seize the moment for the favourable time is not some future date but right now. When we receive the ashes, let them convince us of the need for our response to God’s words through the prophet Joel,

“Come back to me with all your hearts, fasting, weeping, mourning…turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.’

The mark of the ashes on our foreheads will last only for a while; may these words remain on our lips and in our hearts throughout Lent and always.

Walking with Our Lord

I encourage you to come and participate in the stations of the cross this Lent. Our first one will follow the 6.00 pm Mass on Ash Wednesday. From then on, they will take place after 6.00 pm Mass every Friday throughout Lent except Holy Week when it will revert to Wednesday evening. I always find the Stations of the Cross very moving and rich in meaning. Every time I engage in this devotion it profoundly brings home to me the great love and sacrifice of our beloved saviour. It reinforces my commitment to Christ. Do come along.

Fr Steve