Lent: A Pathway to Easter

“Give us the right dispositions, O Lord we pray, to make these offerings, for with them we celebrate the beginning of this venerable and sacred time.” Right from the first Sunday of Lent the liturgy resolutely marks the character of the forty days that start with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a compendium of our whole life, which is a “constant returning to the house of our Father God.” It is a pathway to the Pashcal Mystery, to the death and resurrection of our Lord, the centre of gravity of history, and of each woman, each man: a returning to eternal Love.

During Lent the Church again reminds us of the need to renew our heart and our deeds so that we can rediscover the centrality of the Paschal Mystery. We once again have to put ourselves in God’s hands to “grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.”

“What a strange capacity man has to forget even the most wonderful things, to become used to mystery. Let us remind ourselves this Lent that Christians cannot be superficial. While being fully involved in our everyday work . . . we have to be at the same time totally involved with God, for we are children of God.” Hence during these days we want to consider in our prayer the need for conversion, to redirect our steps towards our Lord and purify our hearts, making our own the psalmist’s cry: Cor mundum crea in me, Deus, et spiritum firmum innova in visceribus meis; “A pure heart create for me, O God; put a steadfast spirit within me.” These words are from the psalm Miserere that the Church offers us frequently during this liturgical season and that Saint Josemaria so often recited.

Lent has deep roots in various key episodes in the history of salvation that is also our own history. One of these is the crossing of the desert by the Chosen People. Those forty years for the Israelites were a time of trial and temptation. The Lord God accompanied them all the time, and made them understand that they should rely only on him, softening the hardness of their stony hearts. It was a time of constant graces. Though the people suffered, it was God himself who comforted and guided them through Moses’ words, and who fed them with manna and quails and gave them water at the rock of Meribah.

How relevant for us are the words, filled with tenderness, with which God led the Israelites to reflect on the meaning of their long journey! You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know to know what was in your hearts, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

The Lord addresses these words today to us as well, who in the desert of our lives certainly experience fatigue and problems every day, but also encounter God’s fatherly care. Sometimes his care reaches us through the disinterested help of family members and friends, and sometimes even from people of good will whom we may not even know. Through his mysterious way of guiding us, God bit by bit leads us into his heart, the true promised land: Praebe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi… “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”

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This article is originally published by the Opus Dei Communications Office and republished here with permission. All rights reserved.

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The St. Josemaria Institute was founded in 2006 to promote the life, teachings, and devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva among all men and women who desire to find meaning and happiness in their daily lives by growing closer to God. The St. Josemaria Institute produces and distributes digital and print media as a means to spread Christian values around the world and to help people navigate and live well in the digital age.

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