Yesterday seemed a bit like Spring, since for the first time in what seemed ages, the temperature was above freezing. And, I thought I heard little birds chirping! No matter the temperature outside, Lent is often called a "Spring time for the Soul."
Sister Hosea and I went to 7:00 AM Mass at the chapel of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master. After the readings, Father Mark blessed ashes left from last year's palms. Then he marked each of our foreheads with the ashes. This ritual is repeated around the world today to remind us of the need to "repent and believe" the Good News.
The Vatican Council II document on the Liturgy says, "The season of Lent has a twofold character: primarily by recalling or preparing for baptism and by penance, it disposes the faithful, who more diligently hear the Word of God and devote themselves to prayer, to celebrate the paschal mystery. This twofold character is to be brought into greater prominence...in the liturgy and by liturgical catechesis."
St. Paul said that "Christ did not seek to please himself" (Rm. 15:3). So we have our best model for Lent in Jesus himself.
Father Guido Gandolfo, SSP, commented on our Founder's thoughts on Lent and penance or what the Founder more often called mortification: "To understand precisely the thought of the Founder (Blessed James Alberione) who said 'take on the way of Jesus Christ by means of mortification', we need to speak of adhering so much to Jesus-Way, by following him, even by 'holding on' to him, so that he re-lives his virtues in us today. It is a question then of making space for the One whom we have chosen to love!"
That's a very positive spin on repentance.
Just as in the Spring we do some digging and moving around in our gardens, so the same with our spiritual selves: we dig out the weeds, soften the soil and plant seeds of virtue. We make space for God in our thoughts and in our way of acting, and we spend more time with him in prayer. Best wishes for a great Lent!