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Apostolic Movement

A bit of math for living the Covenant of Love in the time of Lent

By: Fr. Arkadiusz Sosna

The beginning of the Lenten season of penance brings a great motivation to delve deeper into the life of faith. I am convinced that it can be a time of change, discovery and work on oneself.

The essence of change seems to be action. It’s a bit like in mathematics: adding up what we consider valuable and necessary – such as prayer and other spiritual activities -, subtracting what we consider unfavorable and have been unable to do so far: everything that deserves our fasting, our “minuses” or “from now on I won’t…”.

A time for daily reflection

Every day we need to meditate of what has taken place, where it has led us, how we feel about it. It’s not about checking off a to-do list. Rather, it is about being at peace with oneself, listening to the heart, mind, desires, and disappointments. This is most necessary for spiritual development. If we do not listen to ourselves, if we do not understand the moment we are living right now, there is no growth in prayer. It is a practical aid to see what we sometimes face unconsciously. This self-listening also helps us to discern, to decide what to do next, where to go.

The Lenten penitential season is the strengthening of our relationship with God through Mary in the Covenant of Love.

Let us ask ourselves…

We have to focus on what is our goal during this Lenten penitential season. And each day we can ask ourselves: What are my thoughts today? What is alive in me today? What came to my mind while I was praying? What brought me a moment of peace today? When do I see God at work during the day? What particular moment has been especially etched in my memory?

In our journey through life, we do not always want to follow the path God leads us on, we choose our own path, our own recipes for our happiness, as well as that of others. We lack courage, perseverance, patience, sincerity, trust, and faith. As a result, we multiply our own crosses and bow down to them.

Whoever lives faithfully in the Covenant of Love will never be lost – Father Kentenich used to say.

A time of conversion

The time of Lenten penance is a time of conversion of heart. Conversion of heart is a change in one’s thinking, judgment and, consequently, one’s life. Sometimes this change is very painful. It requires not only a change of heart and a break with the former way of life, but above all a new orientation: towards Jesus, towards our neighbor and towards life according to the principles of the Gospel.

Time to put things in order

The penitential period of Lent is a time of cleansing. Above all, it is a time for our relationships with God, with others and with ourselves. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of three simple ways of bringing order to relationships. These are: prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Prayer puts our relationship with God in order. It also requires a special time to pause and take a deeper look at ourselves. Without such a pause, life can become superficial and mundane, and the relationship with God can become illusory.

God, who is faithful to his Covenant with us, wants to remind us that our journey through life is not a solitary one. God is always present, accompanies us, guides us. He is also present when we forget him, when we turn our backs on him and go our own way.

A time to renew and reinforce our bonds

The Lenten penitential season is a time of almsgiving, which means: how am I doing in my relationships with others? Almsgiving has great, though often unrecognized, power. In the book of Tobit we read: Almsgiving delivers from death and cleanses from all sin. Those who give alms are filled with life (12:9). Today we need a greater heart, more affection, love, and presence. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to bring joy into another person’s life. All we have to do is turn our eyes away from our own problems and look around us. One is never alone in the Covenant of Love.

A special expression of almsgiving is reconciliation with one’s neighbor, forgiveness. God has forgiven us so much in Christ and continues to forgive us. He expects us to forgive our neighbor as best we can: be kind and merciful to one another! Forgive one another, just as God forgave you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

It may be worth our while to deepen our understanding of the Lord’s Prayer during this Lenten season. We ask God to forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Do we really do so?

Time of ascetical life

The Lenten season of penance is also a time of ascetical life and purification of the senses. Mortification of the senses and of the body is necessary for the liberation and development of the spirit. Fasting provides an answer to the question: Who am I? It reveals personal pitfalls and indicates where and in which areas I should be working, developing myself, fighting against passions, weaknesses, and temptations. Fasting confronts us with personal sins, with the dark side of life. As a result, it leads to humility. Exterior asceticism should lead to interior asceticism, that is, putting one’s life in order, giving it meaning, searching for the right values, living the Gospel and the Covenant of Love every day. Without this, this coming Lenten penitential season will not leave a stronger imprint on our lives.

May the Lenten penitential season, which has just begun, serve each one of us, each family and each community to deepen that which feeds the soul and opens it to the love of God and neighbor.


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