A real Lent

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | February 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Liturgically, Lent is a season. Spiritually, some call it a way of life. Whether an inner journey or an in-house parish pilgrimage, however we move through Lent — through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, works of mercy and penance — all are a means to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. This is a real Lent.

At the foot of the cross is every sin, everything that is wrong and all that is evil. At the foot of the cross, the original sin of Adam and Eve is played out in all the atrocities of every chapter in every history. The end of a real Lent is when we come to the foot of the cross and see how the tears of the world are mixed with the earth. It is a muddy place. It is a place where it is easy to get stuck.

Father Charles Lachowitzer

Father Charles Lachowitzer

It is natural to not want to see the worst in life. We would much rather avert our eyes and look instead for a glimpse of heaven. Yet it is only through the cross that we know the truth and the way to eternal life. It is only through faith that we have a vision that looks beyond the cross. It is our realized hope that every experience of Good Friday gives way to Easter Sunday. Every year. Every weekend. Through all challenging circumstances all the days of our lives.

There is a tendency to want to skip past the cross and go right to the empty tomb. It is much easier to like lilies than a crown of thorns. But it is our humble condition that the end of Lent and the end of our lives is at the foot of the cross. By our own efforts this is as far as we get. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must go there, and there it ends.

We need not be hopeless because we are helpless. We need not throw up our hands in total frustration. We need not shake a fist in anger. We need not bury our face in our hands as if the foot of the cross is all there is.

In Matthew 14:30-31, Peter, drowning from a lack of faith, nevertheless called out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” It is the same cry we make when we do a real Lent and dare to arrive at the foot of the cross. It is a real Lent when at the foot of the cross, stuck in the garbage heap of Gehenna, we nonetheless stretch out a trusting hand to Jesus and cry out, “Lord, save me!”

Lent is when we move together to the sorrow of the cross. This is why the Lenten season isn’t a solo hike. It is also why Lent is not joyless. It is a real Lent when at the foot of the cross, with hands open to Jesus and lives open to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, we are led past the horrific to the beatific.

Whether Lent is a season or the pilgrimage of life, when we come to the foot of the cross, the very hand of Jesus lifts us up and leads us past Calvary to Emmaus, where we recognize the person and real presence of the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread. From Exodus to the Promised Land, from Christmas to Pentecost, from birth to death, it is the hand of Jesus that leads us through all that is wrong, evil and false to all that is right, good and true.

It is the reality of sin, suffering and death that disturbs our conscience and grieves our hearts. With eyes open to the voiceless and ears open to the cries of the poor, it is at the foot of the cross where we reach out to Jesus by reaching out in prayer and in service to others, preferentially to those most in need. The unborn. The unloved. The unincluded.

It is a real Lent when at the foot of the cross we take the very hand of the risen Christ to move beyond a Good Friday world to the joy and peace of an Easter people.

Una verdadera Cuaresma

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Category: Only Jesus