Lent, a time of climbing the mountain
When asked what Lent is, most of us probably say that Lent is a season of sacrifice. It is joining Jesus in the desert for 40 days in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. While this is true, Lent is much, much more.
The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word lencten, which means to lengthen. For us in the northern hemisphere, Lent comes in the spring when the days are lengthening and warming. In Michigan, we are especially aware of the increasing sunlight and warmth after the cold, cloudy winter.
Keeping the etymology and timing of Lent in mind, I invite you to reconsider Lent as a season of renewal. In fact, in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Lent is a Period of Purification and Enlightenment. It is a time of climbing the mountain to encounter the Resurrected Christ on the mountain, as Peter, James, and John encountered the Transfigured Jesus on the mountain. As we climb the mountain, we pray, fast, and give alms to prepare us for the mountaintop encounter. On the mountaintop, our celebration of the Risen Christ at Easter, our vision of Christ Jesus is illuminated and our focus on Christ Jesus is purified.
Through our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we sacrifice in order to empty ourselves of the things in our lives that distract us from God. We make sacrifices in order to purify our hearts, minds, and lives to be more open to the presence of God with us. As we give up the distractions that keep us from recognizing God’s presence, we open ourselves to allow God to enlighten us to see ourselves and our world as God sees us.
Through the next weeks of Lent, I invite you to reflect on what needs to purification in your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten you to the things that distract you from God. Open your heart and mind to the renewal that God is offering you in this season of springtime and hope.