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Father Muench Says...

Lent: A time to walk with our Lord

February 17, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Ashes. I remember well a discussion I had a few years ago with a group of first graders about ashes and Ash Wednesday. It was actually a rather informative day for me. The kids had a lot to say. We did come to a decision for one of the reasons ashes were perfect for Ash Wednesday: it is because they are dirty. When the ashes are placed on a person’s forehead, they are quite noticeable all day – a bold reminder that Lent has begun.

Now, as you know, things are to be very different this year. It has been decided that because of the pandemic we are reminded not to touch another, and so the ashes will be sprinkled on the top of a person’s head. Actually, this is exactly as they use to do the ceremony of Ash Wednesday in the early years of the Church. I have no doubt that having dirty ashes in your hair you would certainly be a reminder of the beginning of Lent.

Today I would like to take a moment to talk with you about Lent. I am aware that you have done the Lenten stuff before. This is a very different year. However, Lent is going to be very much the same. Like every other year, Ash Wednesday is meant to remind is that we are mortal; there will be a day when we will meet Our Lord Jesus face to face. During Lent, we pray and meditate to prepare ourselves to allow Jesus to become a real part of our lives and, at the same time, to get to know ourselves again.

I am certain that you have made Lenten resolutions before during other Lents that you have experienced. I want you to know that I am not going to propose a Lenten Program for you here. I am not going to even suggest resolutions for you. That is your challenge. However, I do want to use this opportunity to encourage you to remember to do something. Whether it’s great or small, be sure to do something for Lent.

Our purpose and goal during Lent is to be properly prepared to celebrate the events in the life of Our Savior Jesus during Holy Week and Easter. Through the prayer and mortification of Lent we will again make ourselves ready to walk with Jesus during the days when he won our salvation. The Lenten Sacrifices will give us an open heart, a heart of love, a bold and strong heart, so that we will be personally brave enough to become united with the Lord Jesus as we remember again all that he accepted for us. We will experience what Jesus experienced.

Holy Week begins as we join with Jesus and the apostles as they entered the Holy City of Jerusalem at the time of that sacred Passover. During this Holy Week, we will celebrate on Holy Thursday a supper that we now call the Lord’s Last Supper. This was the time that in faith we believe the Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We continue to renew this Sacrament each time we join at the altar and celebrate Mass.

On that same night, we are with Jesus as he is arrested in the Garden of Olives. Then, on Friday, the Friday we call Good Friday, we are with Jesus as he is scourged and crucified. Then we walk to the tomb as the Lord is placed there. Three days later we stand at that same tomb, now empty, rejoicing in his Resurrection to new life.

The opportunities and challenges of Lent are a powerful transformation in our very being. We become a new person, stronger and braver, so that we can walk boldly and close to the Lord as he suffers for me, as he dies for me, as he rises to new life.

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