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The graces of Lent

As we began our 40-day Lenten journey, the scripture reading Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return (Gen 3:19) is a fitting reminder for faithful to reflect on their mortality and frailty—that we are but dust—but not with fear.

Instead, Lent serves as an opportunity for Christians to reflect and take stock of these basic points:

  1. Humans are dependent, vulnerable

For Abbot John Pereira OSB, the season of Lent calls us to remember our definitive creatureliness. “We rely each moment on grace; each moment on the precious breath which makes our lives possible,” he said. This is our human condition. We are essentially material in origin and composition. We are made of the earth and therefore subject to all the realities and limitations of material things. In Lent, Abbot Pereira said faithful ought to rethink their identity, or fundamental creatureliness.  We need to respect our boundaries and not try to be like God. This is who we are: dust!

  1. The importance of humility.

The word humility comes from the word, ‘humus’, meaning ‘earth’.  The truly humble person accepts this Lenten formula as a reminder of his or her creatureliness, Abbot Pereira said. The life of the human person depends on God’s gift of breath which is freely and graciously given without cause, but which never becomes our possession. We need to be earthed, centred, with our feet to the ground.  St Benedict teaches us about a ladder reaching to heaven with 12 steps.  These are the twelve steps of humility.  The first step on this ladder is to be mindful at all times of God.

  1. An attitude of gratitude

Lent should lead us to a posture of gratitude.  In the message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2020, he underlines that Lent is a favourable time given to us to come closer to God.  Because we have been given this favourable time, the undergirding virtue we need to display during the season of Lent ought to be one of gratitude and joy.