Part 2 of a series of articles for the Lenten season by Msgr Michael de Verteuil, Chair of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission
Lent is basically about our ongoing conversion. We may be tempted to think of it as a season with its focus on the suffering of Jesus but listen to the words of the Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year (27) — “Lent is ordered to preparing for the celebration of Easter since the Lenten liturgy prepares for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery both catechumens…. and the faithful…”
And here are some of the prayers of Masses in the season: “Pour out the grace of your blessing on your servants who are marked with these ashes, that…. they be worthy to come with minds made pure to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of your Son” (Blessing of Ashes); “You have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts…” (Preface II, Lent)
Preparation—this is the reason for the season. What are we preparing for? To say ‘yes’ again to God as we renew our baptismal promises.
At Easter, as we celebrate the new life won for us by Jesus Christ, we renew our baptismal commitment. We recommit ourselves to the Covenant saying to the Lord, “You are our God, we are your people.”
We do this during the Easter vigil and the Easter Sunday Masses, when we are asked to renew our baptismal promises with six questions about three things we reject and three we believe e.g. Do you reject Satan…? Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth…?
Having made this profession, we are sprinkled with water as a reminder of our Baptism.
Lent is given to us to check on ourselves, to see those areas of our lives for which we have to ask pardon and God’s help to change. It can be looked at as a long retreat in which through self-examination, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, reflection on the readings and prayers of the Lenten Masses, retreat/mission, Confession, we can undergo some conversion and become more faithful members of Christ’s Church. All of this so that when we come to Easter, we may rejoice in the Resurrection and, with purified hearts and minds, say ‘yes’ again to God with renewed devotion and love.
In this sense, Lent is a joyful season as it provides space and help for us to become more and more what we have been created to be—faithful children of God.
May this Lent be a beautiful journey of conversion for us.