Lent is a most propitious time for more intense prayer, of penance and of greater attention to the needs of brothers and sisters. Before we start running off to do more, think first about the quality of time spent doing “Lenten activities.”

Between Carnival and Lent.JPGThe Liturgies in the Lenten season are an invitation to live more intensely the desire for conversion with the words of the apostle Paul in front of us: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

The imposition of ashes at yesterday’s sacred Liturgy helped us to acknowledge ourselves sinners, invoke the forgiveness of God while manifesting a sincere desire for conversion. The journey we find ourselves making is an ascetic journey leading directly to Easter Triduum, and the 8th day: the heart of the liturgical year.

The tradition of the Church obliges you and me to abstain from meats and to fast, with the sole exception of those who are impeded for reasons of health or age, 2 days per year (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday). There is good reason to extend this practice to each Wednesday and Friday of the year save for the Easter season,but that is a topic for another blog entry!


Fasting’s great value in the Christian life is experienced as a need of the spirit to relate better to God. Fasting from food on the superficial level as important as it is, is meaningless if it doesn’t lead to a deeper reality, fasting from sin. For fasting to make an impression on us needs to be connected with a sincere desire for interior purification, willingness to obey the divine will and a thoughtful solidarity toward brothers and sisters.

What is the link between fasting and prayer? Part one to pray means to communicate with God and part two it is to listen to God through the work of lectio divina (think of what October’s Synod of Bishops on the Word of God said about lectio divina) which forms an opened heart.

Of the many venerable things we can do during Lent the most important aspects of Lent Mother Church proposes to us is an urgent invitation to a deeper conversion, penance and solidarity. The logic here is the awareness of what needs converting in ourselves first before we go and reconstruct the world. It is easier to think that Jesus came to save all humanity from sin and death (He did) and it is often difficult to deeply know that Christ saved me.  The common good can only be reconciled to God’s designs when we first have the affection for ourselves that God has for us. It’s less about what the Lord did for everybody else, than it is to know in the depths our being that God wants me to be with in Him. Here is the need to be aware of the fact of the Incarnation of the Word for my personal encounter with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Hence, the evening news will tell you just where peacemaking needs to be: in our own hearts and then in the hearts of so many in the world around us. Many of the problems we face are the result of our own divided heart and lack of peace. Hopefully our Lenten observance will pave the way to a true conversion of heart assisted by penance and solidarity contributing to the work of true peacemaking in the context in which we find ourselves. As John Paul II often reminded us, we are co-responsible for the construction of peace and conversion is the first step in that regard.