This Wednesday, February 13, marks the beginning of Lent, the season preceding Easter in the Christian calendar. Many will observe a special period of prayer, perhaps including fasting and almsgiving as well.
Lent can be a time of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation. Lent provides an opportunity to be intentional about turning one’s mind and heart to God. Lent can create an increase in joy, as we undertake to remove obstacles that stand in the way of a connection with God.
May we all find inspiration in the writings of the prophet Isaiah, who reminds us to see individual spiritual practices within in a larger picture of relationships:
This is the fast that pleases me:
to break unjust fetters,
to let the oppressed go free,
to share your bread with the hungry
and shelter the homeless poor.
If you do away with the yoke,
the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry
and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness. (Isaiah 58:6-7, 10)
For prayer resources during Lent, to help keep the heart fixed on the peace and justice embodied by Jesus, I highly recommend Pax Christi USA. In particular, they offer a booklet The Light of Lent through the Gospels, written by Megan McKenna, which offers encouragement to “stretch out our hands and spirits to be for and with others.” This booklet contains not only scriptural reflections, but very practical ideas for how to apply teachings on peacemaking in daily life. Through reflection on how to live peacefully, may we be led to actions that show God’s love in the world.