On Ash Wednesday (February 14, 2018) over 1.2 Billion Catholics around the world began our annual observance of the Lenten Season. Lent is a season of God’s Mercy and Renewal. It is a kind of annual retreat for the entire People of God, the Church, when all of us who have come to life in Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, accompany our Lord into the desert for 40 days to pray, fast and give alms. The three-fold practice of prayer, fasting/abstinence and almsgiving is at the heart the Lenten observance.
We begin this 40 days journey on Ash Wednesday with the imposition of the blessed ashes and the sign of the cross on our foreheads. The ashes remind us that we are sinners, and the sign of the cross marks us as one of the redeem. So at the very beginning of the Lenten journey we are reminded that we are redeemed. The imposition of the blessed ashes and the sign of the cross also signifies the purifications of our minds and hearts, which is the fruit of our Lenten observance, that we give ourselves completely to doing the will of God.
Lent is also a time of discernment. Through prayer, we discern God’s will for us in the particular circumstances of our life. One may ask, what is the will of God for me? What is God saying to me? What is God asking of me? Am I at home on my spiritual journey? How can I prepare for this spiritual journey? What can I surrender? Am I fulfilling my purpose in this life?
For our college students who are involved in relationship(s), this could be a prayerful moment to discern whom you spend your time with. If you are juggling with so many activities on campus or are pulled in different directions of life, study, you name it, this could be a time of prayerful discern for focus.
Lents invites us to be more discipline, to exercise self-restraint, control our emotions, and curb our desires for pleasure. It is a time for penance, to be sorry for our sins and make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation so we can receive the Mercy of God.
This year’s Lent comes with a great embrace of the Year of Mercy. In announcing an extraordinary Year of Mercy, The Holy Father says: “Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always, let us never tire of asking for forgiveness.”
My dear friends let us make this Lent special, and be open to God’s favor. Let us turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. I invite you to jump in the mercy of God and embrace God’s love. For His mercy endures forever.
May God bless you, as we make the journey with our eyes set on Easter!!
Father Urey Patrick Mark
Chaplain & Director-Lyke House
The Catholic Center at AUC