"As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor -- He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you." -- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
People often don’t look forward to Lent. Words like “sacrifice,” “discipline,” and “self-denial” are often used in ways that suggest that Lent is something to be endured rather than a time of grace and spiritual growth. Imagine for a minute that this Lent is going to be different than any other Lent. Imagine that God wants to transform our lives and that something wonderful is about to happen! With an openness to God’s grace and a desire to receive it, Lent will no longer feel like a burden, but rather a blessing.
Fasting and Abstinence
ABSTINENCE: (not eating meat) Binds those over the age of 14 years. All Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence.
FASTING: Binds those over 18 years and under 59 years of age. Eating between meals is not permitted on fast days, except for liquids (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday). One full meal and two smaller meals are permitted. If you have health issues that prevent you from observing these Lenten expectations you are dispensed. You are asked to commit to some other observance which helps you keep the spirit of Lent.
“Ready, at the Hour of Need”
“Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.’ He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’ When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Withdrawing a second me, he prayed again, ‘My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!’ Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.’ ”
There are times when it is almost impossible to imagine ourselves in the middle of a Bible story. Walking across the Red Sea on dry ground. Swallowed by a whale. Walking on water. Seeing thousands fed from a single picnic basket. The miraculous can be a little difficult to process at times. That isn’t true of the altogether human failures with which we all identify. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was in anguish. Thankfully, he wasn’t alone. However, we read the story and think, “Well, he might as well have been,” and we readily identify with the apostles’ failure to support him in his need. Oh, that we might be ready, willing, and listening when the Lord calls to us!