VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
Lent is the time for renewal and sacrifice. It is a sacred time which means it is a holy time. We look back and review our daily tasks and consider how we can be more sacred or holy. We need to keep a check on our efforts to follow the will of God. Are we keeping the laws of God and trying to love Him just a little bit more? Lent is a time to check on our holiness. We all have to be holy, otherwise we will come to the end of our time and see we have not progressed towards perfection. When the end comes we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.
Lent is a time of sacrifice or a time to give up something we like or endure something we don’t like. It is a time to go against the grain. If we do not do this yearly to clean up the dust and dirt it can accumulate without our noticing it. We do a little bit of self-denial every day in Lent and this could take care of us. Of course, the one big and important sacrifice is the death of Jesus on the Cross. This is the sacrifice that we do every time we attend Mass. This is the only meaningful sacrifice. Our own little deprivation and sacrifices we join to this eternal sacrifice.
Lent is our special time for prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. Prayer can be neglected. Do we pray as the Lord wants us to pray? Do we fast as we should? Before t we needed to fast for all of lent except Sundays. The Philippines was exempt from this rule but the rest of the world outside of this exemption fasted for all of Lent. Now the fasting is voluntary; that does not mean we do not fast. There is a great tradition that men have to fast if they are to keep their adoration of God intact. The old rule was only one meal a day plus two short meals that do not add up to a regular meal. This we are obligated to do only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday but that does not mean we cannot voluntarily do it for adoration to God. The third special duty in Lent is to give alms to the poor. We take a special concern in Lent to give help to those in need in our surroundings.
Lent is a time to check on our sincerity. Our Lord was quite critical of those who pray so that other people will see that they are praying. He was also critical of those who fast so people will admire them in their fasting. So He says that when you fast, wash your face so people do not know that you are fasting. In this, your reward will be in heaven. Those who are admired here on earth have already received their reward. For those who give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Again you might receive your reward here on earth rather than in heaven.
Lent is a time to check on our progress in holiness. We are all called to holiness. God is holy and we want to join Him and therefore we must be holy. We adore God in our body and in our spirit. Lent is a time for silent adoration. Lent is time for preparation for the ultimate sacrifice of the death of Jesus on the Cross. For the past two thousand years we prepare for and join the commemoration of this sacrifice of love at Mass.