For Me Lent is creating Opportunities

Source: thecompassnews.org

For me Lent is for creating opportunities by making space for them.  That space is created by getting rid of distractions, making room in the mind, heart and soul.  Giving up things for Lent leaves time and space to refocus on what’s really important.

“Metanoia,” to change one’s mind or purpose, is a term often used in the setting of Lent, analogous to the resolutions we make at New Year’s.  Yet we know that metanoia is deeper than exercising more often, more than eating less sweets, or quitting smoking.

Metanoia is the answer to a prayer for something more meaningful than losing 30 pounds.  It is the answer to a prayer seeking meaning, fulfilment in the truest sense.  It is not just an epiphany, but a guided journey to finding something greater, to digging deeper, the burning desire to be something better, a radical change that can only be found in following the person of the risen Christ, revealed in the sacrifice of the Passion and in the miracle of Easter.

Metanoia, a lifelong journey that can be highlighted during Lent, only makes sense because Christ died and rose on the third day, the pinnacle found at the end of Lent.

There are definite regulations that one can use during Lent. “No butter during Lent, except on Sundays, because there is no Lent on Sundays, even during Lent.”  The alms, the fasting and prayers of Lent can be outwardly demonstrable signs of compliance with our Church’s ritual and culture, but without the searching heart, there is no endgame but a series of boxes ticked off.

They can be a means to emptying oneself to encounter the risen Jesus and discover the next steps in the journey.  Otherwise, they are just clutter.

Raj Vijayakumar points out how the Christian is motivated by the love of a risen Lord.(  IgNation January 28, 2019) Social justice projects can be motivated by ideals, or fears, or hopes for power, perhaps the power to change things for the better; unless they are motivated by the radical change of heart that realizes that the risen Lord has proven he forgives and loves for eternity, not only is the truest point missed, but the sheer joy of Easter that motivates is too.

So Lent for me is not a time for mourning over sins, but trying to realize more fully that they are forgiven, and that forgiveness motivates me to do better.  It is not a time to make myself miserable to be in tune with the suffering of the crucified Christ, but to use the idea of sacrifice as a demonstration of love as the example that I can follow.

Lent is not the list of how I gave up chocolate, coffee and sugar on my cereal, but how I removed distractions and clutter so that I can more fully understand and appreciate the fullness of the love exemplified by a crucified Lord.

With Lent I look forward to the realization of a loving risen Lord, and I know that motivates me to share the joy with the rest of my corner of the world, where I can shine light upon ignorant darkness.  Metanoia is like a wake up call to get with the program and to get going. The message has to get out there!

“Wake me up to what’s going on in the world.

Let me throw off the covers and jump out of bed –

right into the midst of things –

seeing that they aren’t monsters

            but monstrous possibilities

            that must be faced, seized by the foretop,

and used for building today’s world

            according to thy divine blueprint.

                                                Amen.”

(From “Bless this Mess & Other Prayers.  Jo Carr and Imogene Sorley, Abingdon Press, New York, 1969.)

Dr. Michael Bautista is a physician practising in St. John's and is the recipient of the 2015 Ignatian Spirit Award from St. Bonaventure's. He is also an associate professor of Medicine and residency program director in anesthesia.

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4 Comments
  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 09:19h, 04 April Reply

    Thank you very much Mike!

  • suzanne renaud
    Posted at 12:25h, 04 April Reply

    Thank you for your inspiring essay!

  • Esther Buckley
    Posted at 22:25h, 06 April Reply

    Thank you Dr. Bautista for your beautiful written essay .Yourwords are very inspiring.
    Your insight into the meaning of Lent is remarkable .

  • Esther Buckley
    Posted at 22:34h, 06 April Reply

    Forgot to mention — I read your essay over three times!

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