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Father Muench Says...

Preparing to enter into Lent

February 10, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I thought about writing to you today about the time of Lent. Lent begins soon. Ash Wednesday is the 17th of February. However, I am certain that some of you are probably thinking who needs Lent during a time of COVID-19. This pandemic causes us to give up lots of stuff, and then of course we have to live with masks and stay separated.

Ever since the coming of the coronavirus, you and I have been living a style of life that seems like going through Lent. There has been separation. We do have more time – time for extra prayer. There has been separation from Mass. Many of you still watch Mass at home through livestreaming. And, of course, that means separation from the Blessed Eucharist.

So, what shall we say about Lent? I want to encourage you to do the usual Lenten stuff – to do some extra praying, to read and pray with Scripture and also to take some time for silence. Silence can be so important and valuable – not for saying some prayers or thinking about something, just a few moments for the quietness of your whole being. Finally, it is still good to give up something – promising God and yourself to eliminate something that seemed so important in your life – for the weeks of Lent.

Lent continues to be part of our Catholic spirituality. Lent aims our minds and hearts to prepare ourselves to enter more completely into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Lent has always been a time to better understand ourselves. In this way, we draw ourselves closer in our relationship to Our Lord and God. We do this best by getting to know ourselves better.

How best to do this – I believe in the Sacraments of our Catholic Church. We, Catholics, have been given a real gift in our sacraments. We are baptized – a moment of dedication to the Lord. We are to live like baptized people. We should begin the time of Lent by remembering our baptisms, remembering that on Easter Sunday we will renew our baptisms and we will again make our baptismal promises. Lent will again form us so that we are ready to find a new Christian renewed in Baptism.

I urge you to make the Blessed Eucharist again an important part of your life. Hopefully that will not be difficult. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Easter this year is the time when we all can again draw close to the Lord through Holy Communion? This is my prayer. Of course, in the present situation it is good to watch and participate in the Mass through the livestreamed Mass. I pray that we will all be able to attend Mass soon.

Lent also means the sacrament of penance. Penance is our opportunity for us to sacramentally receive the Lord’s forgiveness and love and for us to truly understand ourselves. As you prepare yourself for receiving the absolution of the Church through the priest confessor, the first question you must ask yourself is “Am I a good person? Do I want to live a good life?” Only then will I be able to realize that there are some things in my life that interfere with my readiness to be a good person, a person who truly wants to live a good life. Then in this sacrament we take that important step toward conversion – to make that dedication to change – by sharing our failings with the priest confessor and by seeking the absolution from the Lord as a sign of our readiness to truly change our lives. The preparation of Lent prepares me well to make that journey of making myself a new person.

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