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February 15, 2023

Let this be the Mother of all Lents

The reign of the Merry Monarch signalling the beginning of the mother of all Carnivals begins soon, and with it will come the pageantry, the creativity, and the sheer ecstasy associated with the so-called greatest show on Earth.

Come Ash Wednesday though, Catholics will begin the annual pilgrimage of Lent, hopefully entering fully into the experience to draw closer to a God longing for us to return to Him, heart, body, mind and soul.

There are many who argue that there is diminishing interest and authentic participation in the Lenten season. People no longer ‘cut’ Lent, they argue, and for many it is a hypocritical ritual engaged in, in a vain attempt to sanitise oneself from the debauchery of their Carnival entanglements.

There can be little denial that our churches are no longer as filled on Ash Wednesday as they used to be in years past. Similarly, it will be both futile and dishonest to claim that the obligations to fast, pray, and give alms during the season, are as strictly adhered to today by Catholics in general, as it was in the bygone years.

Perhaps though, after witnessing the creativity of our calypsonians, Soca artistes, pannists, wire benders and mas’ professionals, Catholics can become just as creative with their experience of this Lenten period.

Matthew’s Gospel offers the Christian community some creative ideas for consideration over the next few weeks. The gospel turns on its head everything we have come to believe in terms of our relationship with others. Through Matthew, we learn that simply turning the other cheek is insufficient, that we must also love those who consider themselves to be our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

The gospel therefore challenges us to a level of engagement with our brothers and sisters that, if accepted, has the potential to radically transform our families, communities, and our country.

Perhaps this Lent, we can commit to transforming our own little spaces, by changing our behaviours and, very intentionally and prayerfully, the way we relate to each other. For many, that would be an even bigger sacrifice than giving up meat on Friday’s.

Perhaps this Lent, we can accept Matthew’s challenge and go the extra mile, forgiving and reuniting with that family member or co-worker who has the uncanny ability to touch our last nerve. For quite a few, this would be a more telling sacrifice than the extra money in the collection basket.

If every Catholic accepts Matthew’s challenge for this Lenten period, the effect on this country will be phenomenal. This is the role that every Catholic parent, every Catholic business owner, every Catholic teacher, every Catholic person must accept, if we are to realise the transformation for which we all yearn.

For this Lent, let us embrace the creativity and go beyond the traditional, for nothing changes when we opt to remain in the box of the familiar.

Maybe, this could be the Mother of all Lents.

As Helon Francis reminds us in his Calypso ‘Mighty’: “the whole world dark fuh so, but T&T in the spotlight….for we are holy.”

Photo by Thays Orrico on Unsplash