Let’s face it: many Christians find Lent meaningless. There are some among us who get their ashes, make some crazy resolution –give up the daily consumption of 5 beers, are nice to a sibling, do homework– to make “penance” and the season of Lent more “holy.”  Silly things at Lent beget shallow experiences of conversion, perhaps even lend to a falsification of the Christian witness at during the time of Lent. Read the Pope’s lenten addresses an see what he has to say about the nature of this season we call purposeful, holy, penitential, even great. He would agree with me (wow that could be dangerous!) that unless you take Christ seriously who is standing in front of you in the person of your neighbor, Lent is going to be boring and miserable. How pure is your love for Jesus? How does your love for Jesus made real, concrete, fruitful? The following 3 paragraphs may begin to help answer these questions. Emphasis mine.

Christ attracts me primarily through things and people. My wounded, tired soul could stop at that. Idolatry is nothing other than to confuse the creature with the Creator, which is why there is a continual need for the purification of love.

My comments here come directly from a saying of Fr. Giussani that I have referred to many, many times and that, in the book I wrote about him, I cited as one of the loftiest, most impressive and truly innovative points in the Church’s recent
history: the definition of virginity as distance in possession, or possession that includes distance in it. We must take this expression in its entirety. In it is the exaltation of the human in Christ, which so characterized Fr. Giussani’s entire life, and the inevitability of sacrifice, which he always cited as the condition of the road. No one wants to do away with or repress friendship and sentiments, or to put them “in parentheses”, but we must be very clear and ask ourselves: what does God want of me? And what does that mean for the other, in light of the road that God has assigned to him?

Christ is not paradoxicalChrist gives us an abundance of human affections to help us to understand what it means to love him. It doesn’t scandalize me when someone says: “It seems that I love that person more than I love Jesus”, because our path towards the Infinite is without end, and, before you love the God that you don’t see, you love the neighbor that you see. But love the neighbor that you see so as to walk toward God, to walk toward the fullness of yourself.

An excerpt from an address tilted, “Our Fulfillment” by Father Massimo Camisasca, founder of the Fraternity of Saint Charles

The Fraternity is an international missionary congregation of priests begun in 1985 as a response to the work of Monsignor Luigi Giussani. The Fraternity has about 100 priests in 20 countries and 30 in formation to be ordained priests. To read the rest of the address, click here.