One of our leading Catholic scholars has described Lent as the desert time in the Church year. He reminds us that the desert time can be for us an opportunity to reflect on who we are and why we are here. It takes many of us a while to absorb the reality of the Christian vision: that we are children of God called to announce in word and deed the favor of the Lord. But the desert can also have its dangers. It can be a place of desolation, a place of loneliness. And we certainly can be tempted when we are vulnerable and isolated. Each of us struggle against temptation and sin, and for many of us it is a daily struggle. We are challenged to admit that we are all sinners and we need help in resisting our temptations. We are encouraged to take Lent seriously and acknowledge our own shortcomings, and guard against them.
During this special time in the Church year, we can therefore turn to God and seek renewal in heart, mind, and body through the disciplines of Lent: prayer, almsgiving, and fasting if we are physically able. We can respond to the challenge to live a Christian life and truly turn away from sin and towards the living God, and we can avail ourselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Pope Francis reminds us that “…in the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could lead to hardness of heart, we are called to dive into a sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience his tenderness.” We are invited to reflect on these profound words of Pope Francis, and strive to unite our hearts to the Lord and experience his love and mercy in a very special way as we begin our Lenten journey.