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Allow me to rant. Let me lament over the status of lent. Times have changed and the once mighty Christendom is on its tail end. We no longer observe lent the way it was done in the past and translated into practice in the present. If it is, it’s been reduced to a minimal degree. We caved in so much. We accommodated the dominant culture to the detriment of our own. Once non-negotiable, now optional and/or out of the list. Organized religion has lost its control in the lives of its own people. Given this scenario, what does lent mean in the midst of your busy lives? How do you take it seriously? 

Lent is tough. It’s like doing laundry, washing dishes and cleaning our backyard. Lent is messy. It’s not tidy. Lent means decluttering. It’s spring cleaning. It’s a litmus test of how organized and structured our lives are. Ultimately, lent is about our soul, our inner life and disposition in relation to God and the church. Lent is a time to minimize excessive material pleasures, control our speech and discipline our behavior. There’s so much noise. Everyone wants to talk and be heard but many of the words are meaningless. Let’s spend more time in silence and solitude and listen to the voice of God instead. The Opening Prayer (Collect) in this Sunday's liturgy says it all, 

O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son,

,be pleased, we pray

to nourish us inwardly by your word...

The absence of noise in silence will take us into the depths of life. The modern world desperately longs for this inward direction in life. What we merely have is a negative understanding of lent in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Just skim through the contents of this weekend's bulletin and you’ll see what I’m trying to get into. Lent is put in a negative light. It’s all about the ‘don’ts’ and what you and I have missed. There’s so much focus on the obligation to go to confession and the regulation of fasting and abstinence. It appears it’s all about the observance of rules and tradition devoid of any spiritual dimension. This is the strong disconnect between merely observance of the religious custom without the spiritual counterpart. Fasting and abstinence for the sake of obligation, for the sole reason of compliance is dangerous and risky. Don’t do that. We are missing it an essential component. Religious sacrifice and ascetical practice must always be accompanied with prayer. Prayer and fasting are inseparable. Otherwise, it won't have any impact at all. On Ash Wednesday, I asked the assembly the typical question, what are you giving up lent? Of course, it’s sin but shutting down external forces that can be channeled for prayer will take us closer to our goal. Just observe the examination of conscience on penance service, you go through the laundry list of negation. It’s about time to bring the Lenten season into the light. It’s about time to focus on the positive side of lent. Next time, you examine your conscience start with the love of God and not the crazy things you’ve done. View your sins in the context of the unconditional love of the Father in the parable of the prodigal son.

Happy Lent!  

Tags: LENT