In these days of Lent, I think of the fact that everything that is born in nature needs preparation, even if it is fundamentally hidden. Thus it is for the seed in the earth, so it is for the fetus in the mother's womb, so it is for the known and unknown stars and planets that have lived for infinite generations, and of which we have received news, particularly in the last century.
When we speak of Lent, we speak of preparation so that the life in us can be recovered -- or much more -- so that the life in us can be welcomed. The life of Christ risen, his Spirit which is given to us at Easter, needs to find hospitality in us.
This is the meaning of the silence and the prayers that is recommended by the Church in this time. This is the meaning of fasting, which is closely related to prayer and silence. That our eyes may not be closed, that our senses may not be dulled. This is the meaning of the alms that are asked of us. That our life may not be built on what is secondary and fleeting, but that it may find in Jesus the only richness that does not end, the richness that gives light and weight to every tiny thing. In this way, in our hands, instead of the sad object that will be destroyed, everything becomes an icon of the beauty of the Savior.
Monsignor Massimo Camisasca, via Magnificat
My Lenten experience took a much bigger emphasis than I expected. Perhaps it is because we just finished giving the Beyond Cana retreat where God touched me personally and deeply. He has been continuing that work in these last few days and so when our priest concluded his brief homily with, "These ashes are not cosmetic, they should only be the outward sign of your inward commitment. You should not come for these ashes unless you expect to be very changed at the end of Lent."
I'm paraphrasing but it gave me slight pause. It underlined the deep commitment and seriousness that we should be giving to this process of turning away from our sins and turning toward God. I do have those but also a feeling of leaving myself open to God's will, especially in several key areas of my life. It is funny. I know that such a thing could leave me feeling drifting and vulnerable. Instead, it leaves me feeling free, light, and expectant. Not a bad way to begin Lent at all.
Come Holy Spirit ... fill the hearts of your faithful ...