Let us begin the fast with joy! Let us prepare ourselves for spiritual efforts! Let us cleanse our soul and cleanse our flesh! Let us abstain from every passion as we abstain from food! Let us rejoice in the virtues of the Spirit and fulfill them in love, that we all may see the Passion of Christ our God,and rejoice in spirit at the holy Pascha!
This is the chant that the Orthodox church sings at the beginning of Lent. These words can set the stage for us this year as we do Lent.
Begin the fast with joy
Lent is hard work, but a work that makes us better disciples of Jesus. Today is an invitation to each of us from God……Jesus stands in front of us and says “Commit your life to me”….our yes to this invitation is one of the most joyful things we can experience and one of the most challenging.
Prepare ourselves with spiritual efforts
Lent is a time to pray better. Prayer is opening your heart to God which is why Jesus tell us to “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Lent is the time to go into the secret room of our hearts and allow God to talk to us. In this secret room, God will show us who we are: his Beloved Child.
Let us cleanse our souls and abstain
Lent gives us a harsh reality: we are not perfect, and we are sinners. Admitting that we are sinners is not saying we are bad. Admitting and naming our sins during Lent means own that we are not perfect disciples and need Jesus’s forgiveness and grace to change …just like the 12 and the disciples needed in the beginning of the Church. The ashes placed on our heads to day is the outward sign of our sinfulness. They are an empty sign if we are not ready to admit our failings and change our hearts. Our fasting forces us to be in solidarity with the poverty of most of the world. Our fasting also forces us to realize that we can fill up our lives with so much that there is no room for God. Doing without feeds the poor and opens up a space for God
Rejoice in the virtues of the Spirit
Lent is the time to pray for a virtue……and to ask God to show you and me what virtue we need. If we work on just one virtue and ask God to help us, then Lent will be so much fruit we will be amazed. I would suggest we all pray for the virtue of discipleship
See the Passion of Christ and celebrate the Holy Pascha…. holy Easter
We enter into a spiritual retreat today to prepare for the celebration of the most important event of Christianity. Our God loved us so much he embraced the Cross and rose again. Lent is about refocusing on that mystery and rededicating ourselves to the Jesus who embraced a Cross because he loved you and he loved me.